STOMACH ULCERS: SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Before knowing about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of stomach ulcers, let’s first get to know it well!
Stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers, are the painful sores formed in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. A thick layer of mucus protects the stomach from the digestive juices and acid but when this layer is reduced, stomach ulcer finds its way. The digestive acids are thus enabled to eat the tissues of the lining away. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer; of the duodenum, a duodenal ulcer; and of the oesophagus, an oesophageal ulcer. It differs from erosion because it extends deeper into the lining of the oesophagus, stomach, or duodenum and incites more of an inflammatory reaction from the tissues that are involved.
Some of the major causing agent is the long term usage of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines or NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen, etc. Other causes includes an infection in the digestive system caused by the bacteria H. Pylori; poor diet; weak immune system; high amount of stress; poor lifestyle habits. Excessive smoking and alcohol intake is also another cause. Ulcers also seem to run in families. Older adults are also more on the risk of getting ulcer.
An ulcer may or may not have symptoms. And the most common symptom is stomach ache or a burning sensation up from the neck down to the belly button. The severity of the ulcer changes the symptoms and the severity of the symptoms; therefore, depend upon the severity of the ulcer. Other symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark or Black stool or bleeding
- Weight loss
- Acid reflux
- Not wanting to eat
The treatment varies depending on the cause of ulcer. Most ulcers can be treated with a prescription or a course of antibiotics, or a medication called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) but in rare cases, surgery may be required. Antacids are used as effective treatment to treat ulcers as they neutralize existing acid in the stomach. Some ulcers, however, heal even without medications although they can recur as well. Therefore, the major problems resulting from ulcers are related to ulcer complications. Complications include bleeding, perforation, and obstruction of emptying of the stomach.
Ulcers can also be prevented with certain lifestyle changes, few of which are listed below:
- Don’t smoke.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Don’t overuse aspirin and/or NSAIDs.
- On indication of symptoms of an ulcer, contact doctor before it worsens.
- Clean eating habits
- Maintaining hygiene