Stomach ulcer can cause a number of signs and symptoms, though sometimes it doesn’t have any (especially when it’s still mild /in the early stages). As it progresses and becomes severe, the symptoms are more obvious. The most common one is burning stomach pain, which usually improves for a while when you take antacid or eat certain foods that buffer your stomach acid. How about headaches and dizziness?
In general, it refers to pain in the head area. How it feels like and behaves can vary. It may be isolated to specific location of your head, affect one or both sides of the head, or radiate across your head from one spot. The pain may feel like a throbbing sensation, sharp, or dull ache. Also, it may develop suddenly or gradually – which lasts from several minutes to days.
And it can be classified into many types – even there are hundreds types of headache. The most common ones are as follows:
- Migraine, an intense pain that usually occur on one side of the head (though not always). Many people describe this kind of headache as pulsing sensation or throbbing pain. It may last for hours to several days. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as stomach upset, decreased appetite, increased sensitivity to noise and light.
- Tension-type headache, which is the most common type of pain in the region of head. It’s usually mild and will relieve over time, though it may come and go. Also, there are usually no other symptoms.
- Sinus headache, as the name suggests, is pain in the head caused by inflammation of sinuses (air-filled cavities in the facial bone).
- Hormone headache that occurs due to changes of hormones; for example during menopause, pregnancy, and menstrual periods.
- Cluster headaches, a piercing /burning pain that usually occurs around /behind one eye. It can be constant or throbbing. Though it’s rare, it may be the most severe type of headache.
The pain can be caused by certain problem in the structure of the head (called primary headache) – or a trouble elsewhere in the body and something else that are severe enough to trigger /stimulate pain-sensitive nerve in the head (called secondary headache). We can say that it can be attributed by many factors and causes.
It is very common, and it refers to a range of sensations. Some people say that it feels like off balance (feeling faint or lightheaded), while others describe it as a feeling their surroundings are moving or spinning (vertigo).
It can affect anyone, but it’s likely to occur more often as we age. In fact, older adults tend to have health problems and medications that cause dizziness.
Can stomach ulcers cause headaches and dizziness?
A stomach ulcer is an open sore that develops in the lining of the stomach. An ulcer can also occur in the upper part of intestine, this is called duodenal ulcer. Both stomach and duodenal ulcers are often caused by infection from bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, though not all people with H-pylori infection develop ulcers.
Another common culprit is regular, long-term use of pain relievers especially NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. In addition to taking NSAIDs, the risk of developing stomach ulcer increases if you’re a smoker, a heavy drinker (alcohol can hurt your stomach lining), and have uncontrolled-untreated stress.
Again, mild of small stomach ulcer may not cause any symptoms. And the most common symptom is a burning pain in the stomach, which usually lasts for minutes to hours – it can be chronic (come and go) for days or weeks. Other symptoms include; heartburn, nausea, intolerance to certain foods (especially fatty foods), and feeling of fullness.
But does the disease cause headache and dizziness, too?
Headache and dizziness are not specific symptoms of stomach ulcer. But less often, the disease could be painful enough to cause severe dizziness that feels like a feeling faint.
Ulcer-related feeling faint may signal an ulcer bleeding, particularly true if you also experience one of the following severe symptoms:
- Severe nausea and vomiting that don’t improve with lifestyle measures. Sometimes, severe ulcer may cause vomiting blood (red /black blood).
- Difficulty to breathe (shortness of breath for example).
- Passing stools containing blood, which may appear tarry or black.
- Appetite loss.
- Unintentional weight loss.
An ulcer bleeding could be fatal if not promptly treated. So seek immediate medical help if you have some of those severe symptoms!
Moreover, chronic internal bleeding associated with ulcer may cause anemia, a condition in which the body has deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood. Anemia can also contribute to cause dizziness and headache – depending on the severity, other symptoms include; shortness of breath, fatigue, pale skin, irregular heartbeats, and chest pain.
The good news, ulcer-related feeling faint doesn’t always signal serious problem since it can also be caused by minor factors. For example, sometimes dizziness or headache could be a consequence /side effect of the following stomach ulcer medications:
- Certain antibiotics. As well we know that stomach ulcer is often linked to H-pylori infection, and therefore antibiotic is one of the main treatment options. Even many times, combination of at least two antibiotics is required to cure the infection more effectively. And some antibiotics may cause dizziness or headache.
- Proton pump inhibitors, which is usually used to block stomach acid production. Common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
- Histamine-2 blockers (H2 blockers) to reduce stomach acid production by targeting a substance called histamine. Some possible side effects include confusion, dizziness, muscle aches, or tightness in the chest.
- It is not used to treat or cure the ulcer, but it can help ease ulcer pain. Possible side effects include diarrhea, constipation, headache, and nausea.
It seems that all of those ulcer medications are potential to cause side effects. But your doctor has clearly understood that the benefits of them are more important than the potential side effects.
Moreover, many people don’t experience the side effects. And if the side effects occur, they are usually mild and temporary. But if they do bother you a lot or persist (last longer than you expect /become severe), see a doctor!
And before seeing your doctor, think about the best way to describe any symptoms or side effects that you have. For example if you have headache or dizziness, make note how actually it feels like! Write down when it feels worst and what helps it improve (subside)!
Remember there are so many potential causes and ways to describe the sensation of headache and dizziness. So you need to clearly explain what you feel to your doctor! You and your doctor may need to spend some time to pinpoint the root of problem!