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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stomach Ulcers — Or Not?

My tummy hurts!

It’s a familiar cry for parents. But kids aren’t the only ones with achy middles. There’s lots of talk around the WebMD boards about stomach pain and digestive problems related to chronic conditions, seasonal bugs, food choices, etc.  But there’s one condition that seems to be the fall guy.

You’ve probably heard:

This ________ ( fill-in-the-blank: job, relationship, etc) is giving me an ulcer!

Yup, ulcers get a lot of attention and are hard to diagnose. Did you know that the 2005 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to two Australian scientists for their research on ulcers? Even professional athletes with a medical team on hand can be misdiagnosed. Chicago star point guard Derrick Rose has two stomach ulcers  The pro basketball player was initially given heartburn medication before getting the correct treatment.  

So what exactly is an ulcer? Basically, peptic ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach that cause burning stomach pain and need to be treated or they will get worse.

But diagnosis and treatment is often not effective – or not effective quickly enough. One poster reports that ulcers are not healing, even after being admitted to the hospital! And another member, who is only 22 years old, has done his research and reports that “against all literature, still getting peptic ulcers”.

Throughout the Digestive Disorders Community, there are lots of suggestions for relief, and many seem to be working. Over in the Crohns and Colitis group, member barbarafromtucson looks for relief or a cure through a product she read about online. But if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!  Moderator Elizabeth quoted our Parkinson’s expert Dr. Stacy about another on-line claim to “cure” a condition or disease:

“I appreciate you allowing me to say for the record: ‘I believe it is unconscionable for anyone to prey on the desperate hopes of someone with an illness for the purpose of profit.’ If anyone offers these promises, ask them how they have proven the product works. If they do not say through 2 double blind placebo controlled trials, and FDA or EMA approval, the product has not been assessed for safety and efficacy by government regulatory agencies.” 

Well put, Dr. Stacy! A great example of why WebMD experts are so valuable to our members. 

Achy tummies and growly bowels are prevalent all over the WebMD Community. On the Parenting board, a worried mom asks about her 3-year-old with severe stomach pains and gets information from one of our resident pediatricians, Roy Benaroch, M.D.

Charlespasquale on the Digestive Disorders board is puzzled and posts,“IBS? Crohns? Colitis? No doctor can figure it out”, and his online friend JavaMamma27 suggests that he get checked for Celiac Disease (a problem with digesting gluten with symptoms that include gas and bloating, weight loss, and fatigue). Meanwhile, Thesmallwonder posts, “Weird Symptoms – No Doctor has been able to diagnose.”

If you think you might have an ulcer or other digestive problem, be sure to talk to your doctor. And, while you wait for your appointment, compare notes with some of the knowledgeable folks in our Digestive Disorders Community.

By Suzanne Robertson

Posted by: WebMD Blogs at 2:24 pm


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