Severe abdominal pain that's alleviated when you eat is most likely the result of an ulcer. The most common symptom of an ulcer is abdominal pain, according to MayoClinic.com. The pain may get worse when your stomach is empty because the exposed portions of your digestive tract are exposed to stomach acids and chemicals that cause irritation. If you suspect that you have an ulcer, talk with your doctor for a clinical diagnosis. Most ulcers are treated with prescribed medications and lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and eliminating alcohol consumption.
Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the soft tissue that lines the opening of your small intestines, stomach or esophagus. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that an estimated 20 million people in the United States will develop an ulcer in their lifetime. Most ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. It is unclear how the infection is spread, but it is suspected that hand washing and proper hygiene may reduce your chances of getting the infection. Some ulcers are caused by lifestyle choices or gastrointestinal surgery.
The reason your severe pain may subside when you eat is because the food acts as protection for the open sores. The food absorbs a good amount of the stomach acids, preventing exposure to the ulcers. Some people attempt to minimize the amount of abdominal pain by eating small meals often. While this may help you cope with your condition, you need to see a doctor for a diagnosis and proper treatment options.
Ulcers are diagnosed in three ways; testing for the bacterium that causes most ulcers, performing an endoscopy and taking an X-ray of your digestive system, according to MayoClinic.com. H. pylori, the bacteria that cause ulcers, is detected through a blood test, breath test and stool test. Your doctor may recommend an endoscopy, where your doctor will place a tube down your throat to look for the visual appearance of ulcers. An X-ray may be taken to identify ulcers by you swallowing a liquid that coats your throat, making the ulcers apparent.
Most ulcers are treated with triple-antibiotic treatment to effectively kill the bacteria in your digestive system. If lifestyle choices are the cause of you ulcers, you will need to stop drinking alcohol, eliminate the use of tobacco and stop using certain pain relievers. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the use of probiotics and vitamin C to help kill the harmful bacteria.