All You Need To Know About Ulcers: Types, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention
Anyone who has ever had ulcer knows how agonizing it can be.
The pain can sometimes be crippling, keep you up at night till the early hours of the morning.
I know, because I’ve been there.
- 1 All You Need To Know About Ulcers
- 2 But What Is Stomach Ulcer?
- 3 What Is Pepsin?
- 4 Types Of Ulcers
- 5 But What Can Cause An Ulcer?
- 6 Typical Symptoms Of Ulcers
- 7 Not Always A Case Of Surgery
- 8 When Would I Need A Surgery To Treat My Ulcer?
- 9 Are There Specific Diets I Should Avoid?
- 10 Treatment Of Stomach Ulcers
- 11 Prevention Of Stomach Ulcers
- 12 Conclusion
All You Need To Know About Ulcers
But What Is Stomach Ulcer?
It refers to a situation where serious sores or inflammation occur within the stomach walls.
It is triggered when the protective mucus lining in your stomach is gradually eroded or reduced.
Without this mucus, digestive acids that naturally occur within the digestive tract of the body begin to eat away at the tissues that line the stomach, causing what we call an ulcer.
It is a very common and painful condition that affects millions of tens of millions of people globally.
Although this condition can be easily, it can become severe and provoke further complications when not properly managed.
What Is Pepsin?
Pepsin is a substance that’s found in the stomach lining.
When this utterly important substance is non-functional or is reduced in the digestive system, an ulcer will develop.
This is what is called a peptic ulcer.
Types Of Ulcers
Most people only speak broadly about stomach ulcer and peptic ulcer.
These two are what they have in mind whenever they think ulcers.
But there are actually 7 types of ulcer in all, depending on the location.
A peptic ulcer can develop around the area of the esophagus, stomach or duodenum.
Therefore, depending on its exact location, a peptic ulcer can be called an esophageal, or gastric, or duodenal ulcer.
A more advanced stage of peptic ulcer can cause sufferers to bleed internally.
A bleeding ulcer should not be taken lightly. You must consult your physician at once if you are showing symptoms.
When an ulcer persists for over a period of 3 months in spite of treatment, it is termed a refractory ulcer.
Esophageal ulcers occur in the lower Esophagus. It is a disease known as GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease).
When a peptic ulcer occurs inside the stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer.
The symptoms of gastric ulcers are rather more specific than peptic ulcer symptoms.
This type of peptic ulcer develops in the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.
Stress ulcers are normally found in people who are severely stressed.
It can develop in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum.
But What Can Cause An Ulcer?
A number of factors occurring within the stomach and digestive system can cause a peptic ulcer.
From an imbalance in digestive fluids in the stomach to bacterial infection in the small intestine (caused by an organism known as H. pylori bacteria), anything could be the start of an ulcer.
Aside from these, other factor that can cause an ulcer include uncontrolled use of prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
Other risk factors include your genetic history; ulcer can be hereditary.
Age and lifestyle is another critical risk factor for ulcer.
The older you get (50 and upward), the more your risk of having an ulcer.
Indulging in tobacco, alcohol and eating spicy foods all too often can also provoke an ulcer.
If you’re treating an ulcer, certain spicy foods, carbonated drink and caffeine are off the menu; they contain ingredients that can aggravate the condition.
Furthermore, a link has been established between starvation and stomach ulcer.
Not eating enough or as at when due can cause an imbalance or abnormality in the digestive fluids.
It can provoke the ulcer and make things difficult for you.
Typical Symptoms Of Ulcers
As you know, it can be a very painful ailment. You feel a sharp, gnawing sensation around the area of the ulcer.
Sometimes, the pain is heightened when you’ve not eaten (remember what we said about hunger aggravating symptoms of ulcer?) or when you’ve eaten any spicy foods.
The pain tends to subside after you’ve eaten or drank something.
Aside from pains, you can also feel some nausea and heartburn.
In more aggravated cases, there might be some vomiting and loss of appetite which will culminate in weight loss.
Other common signs and symptoms of ulcers can include bloating, burping or acid reflux, and anemia in extended cases, etc.
An upper endoscopy can treat a bleeding ulcer.
But if the bleeding is severe or a sore has formed in your stomach wall as a result of the ulcer, you may require a corrective surgery to fix you.
Not Always A Case Of Surgery
But surgery isn’t always the case, and that’s quite some relief.
A lot of times, in fact, all you would require is strict medication over a short period of time to treat your ulcer.
This will be even more so, if your particular type of ulcer is the result of H. pylori infection.
In which case, you’ll need antibiotics, probiotics, bismuth supplement and PPI drugs, which inhibit acid secretion in the stomach.
With thorough and effective treatment, symptoms of ulcer are sure to subside.
But even then, it is often ideal and recommended that you continue your ulcer medications a while longer.
This will ensure that you’re properly healed and that all bacterial that triggered the ulcer had been dealt with.
When Would I Need A Surgery To Treat My Ulcer?
We have established that only with rare and complicated cases would you require a surgery to treat your ulcer.
Instances of such complications would include when, for instance, your ulcer is prolonged or recurring.
It eases up a little, and then returns after a while with a bigger bang.
This may suggest that it’s not responding to common medications, and a surgery may be recommended for you.
When the bleeding is severe and frequent, in spite of use of prescribed antibiotics, you may be asked to come in for a surgery too.
Also, if the doctor determines that there’s a tear in the stomach which may cause food matters to flow out of the stomach into the small intestine, an urgent surgery would have to be arranged for you.
If not, it places your life at grave danger.
Are There Specific Diets I Should Avoid?
Most people who are treating ulcer or has had ulcer in the past know this.
With ulcer, sufferers are often warned not to eat certain types of food.
They’re placed on strict, ulcer-friendly diet, so to speak.
The general impression is that ulcer is caused by certain food.
However, it is very unlikely that foods can cause or cure an ulcer.
Ulcer is a disease, just like most others, and can be caused a number of factors.
Food does not constitute one of such factors.
But the fact of the matter is that certain foods could aggravate the symptoms for you, just as other food types can alleviate the symptoms.
Hot, spicy foods and caffeinated soda drinks are all possible suspect.
You tend to experience increased painful sensation when you consume any of these foods.
That said, eating healthy is crucial, no matter your health status.
Go for foods rich in essential vitamins and mineral. Cut down on carbohydrates and starchy foods.
That is the only way you can ease the flow in your intestinal tract, boost your immunity, enhance your body metabolism and get rid of the ulcer-causing bacteria.
Take your vitamins supplement, eat more fruits, veggies and fiber that can be helpful to your digestive system.
Also eat a healthy serving of foods rich in probiotics regularly.
This should help you maintain perfect health and wellness.
Treatment Of Stomach Ulcers
Treatment of ulcer will depend upon the exact type of ulcer that we’re dealing with.
With the right knowledge and information, ulcer isn’t really hard to manage.
A few situations can be resolved without needing intensive or expensive medical attention.
Although there are several ways to treat ulcers, let’s start with the basic – lifestyle changes.
Like we’ve mentioned earlier, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol won’t help your condition, especially if you’re being treated for ulcer.
So the sooner you drop this hazardous social habit, the healthier and wiser you are.
As you may already know, honey is of utmost benefit to your health in several ramifications.
Its essential properties – antibacterial, anti-inflammatory agents – can also be helpful in reducing and eliminating symptoms of ulcer
So if you have an ulcer, it might be a healthy choice to include some healthy measure of honey in your morning tea or coffee.
This is however not a remedy to replace your regular ulcer medications.
And Chicken Soup!
That’s right. There are evidences that eating such rich protein source as chicken, fish and eggs are great for you if you’re having ulcer issues.
That’s because they contain glutamine, an ingredient that can help in reducing the symptoms.
Don’t Forget Your Antacid Medication
Aside from making necessary lifestyle adjustment if you have an ulcer, there are a number of important medications that your doctor can prescribe for your condition.
Typical ulcer medicines include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that ease acid levels and promote rapid healing of the ulcer.
This group of medication includes antibiotics and drugs such as Lansoprazole (Prevacid), Esomeprazole (Nexium) and Omeprazole (Prilosec).
Others are Dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), Pantoprazole (Protonix) and Rabeprazole (Aciphex), as well as Omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate (Zegerid).
Your doctor is in the best position to decide the best method of treating your ulcer.
If you have an actively bleeding ulcer, you’ll likely be hospitalized for intensive treatment with endoscopy and IV ulcer medications.
Prevention Of Stomach Ulcers
Again, cleanliness cannot be overemphasized.
Because bacterial infection appears to be the most common cause of ulcer, ensure to wash your hands regularly.
Also wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them. When you’re cooking, be sure that your food is properly cooked.
To prevent ulcers caused by NSAIDs, stop using these medications (if possible) or limit their use.
If you need to take NSAIDs, be sure to follow the recommended dosage and avoid alcohol while taking these medications. And always take these medications with food and adequate liquids.
This is especially important with H. pylori infections, to make sure that all bacteria are eliminated.
Side effects of medications used to treat stomach ulcers can include:
• abdominal pain
These side effects are typically temporary.
If any of these side effects cause extreme discomfort, talk to your doctor about changing your medication.
Although there are several home remedies for ulcer, it’s always best to speak with your doctor before doing anything.
You should never take your health for granted, even though some ulcer can self-resolve.
Ulcers can cause further complications when not properly managed.
They can even be life-threatening (in the case of bleeding ulcers).
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