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Stomach ulcers are uncomfortable and painful sores in the stomach and the stomach lining. Another name for stomach ulcers is a gastric ulcer which is a type of peptic ulcer disease. The stomach has a thick layer of mucus that protects the stomach lining from the acidic digestive juices that digest food.
However, when someone has a stomach ulcer, that thick layer reduces and allows the acid to deteriorate the tissues on the inside of the stomach. Thankfully there are cures that could get rid of stomach ulcers; however, without quick treatment, they can worsen and cause complications leading to death.
From what experts know, there are only two main causes of stomach ulcers. While it is true that a condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can affect the stomach and cause ulcers, it is a very rare condition. Less than 1% of all stomach ulcers occur because of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
The two most common causes are an infection called H. pylori and the abuse of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. The infection is because of a bacterium that eats away at the stomach lining. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are made with ingredients that weaken the immune system and digestive lining over time. Painkillers should be limited for this reason.
There are a few people who have a higher risk of developing stomach ulcers. For example, individuals with Acid Reflux are already prone to throwing up and indigestion. If they continue to throw up, they can cause stomach ulcers as the stomach lining loses protection.
Allergic reactions to food can also cause stomach ulcers. If you have an allergic reaction to a specific piece of food but continue to eat it, you may develop a stomach ulcer.
The symptoms vary with each patient; however, the most common symptoms include:
Since the symptoms are very similar to other gut health conditions, your doctor will most likely ask for some tests to identify the exact cause. It is important to talk to your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, as stomach ulcers can worsen and become bleeding ulcers that are life-threatening.
The diagnosis completely depends on the severity of your ulcer and the symptoms that you display. The appointment will most likely start with your doctor asking about your medical history and about any prescription use.
To detect the infection that causes stomach ulcers, you may need to do a breath test. The breath test is easy and painless. Patients drink a clear drink and take a breath into a bag. The bag is quickly sealed by the medical professional, and if the infection or bacteria is present, then it will contain higher levels of carbon dioxide than normal if the test is negative; however, your doctor will then move on and order tests like a barium swallow.
During this exam, you will consume a white liquid called barium that coats and damages your upper stomach. The white coating helps your doctor and medical professionals see your intestines and gut better on X-rays and CT scans.
If they don’t find anything, your doctor will most likely move on to an endoscope. An endoscopy works by using a thin light that is inserted in your mouth and reaches your stomach. The device has a small camera that your doctor will use to see if there are any ulcers or abnormal tissues and scarring.
Once you and your doctor have an idea of the severity of your stomach ulcers, you can start treatment. The treatment entirely depends on your symptoms and the location of your stomach ulcers. There are non-surgical treatments that include using H2 receptor blockers. This is a medication that is taken in pill form that blocks acid production, which can help your body heal the ulcer.
If the stomach ulcer was caused by an infection, then your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics that are necessary to take. This is the only solution for bacterial infection. If you do not take the prescription antibiotics, then your stomach ulcer can worsen and lead to death. If the symptoms are too severe, then you will need surgical treatment.
It is important to note, however, that surgical treatment is very rare. You will need some kind of surgery on your stomach ulcer if it returns without warning, doesn’t fully heal, or keeps food from digesting. Sometimes surgery can include removing the entire ulcer if possible or slicing tissue from one part of your body and patching it over where the ulcer is.
As you take the treatments, there are also ways to manage the condition. While your body heals, you can partake in a healthy diet and stop taking NSAIDs. A healthy diet includes eating foods that will eliminate the bacteria that are high in fiber. Some of these healthy foods include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, apples, olive oil, spinach, cauliflower, and radishes.
They’re also at-home remedies that you can take while suffering from a stomach ulcer. Although it will not cure the stomach ulcer, you can take probiotics as a supplement to replenish the bacteria that helps your stomach digest food properly. With stomach ulcers, if you are throwing up as a symptom, then you are losing very important bacteria that aids in proper digestion.
Another way to manage the pain and symptoms is to take a few drops of honey. This is a smooth food that can coat your stomach with a protective layer and provide you with nutrients to fight off the infection.
Stomach Ulcers do not discriminate and can affect people of all races, ages, and genders. They are primarily caused by underlying conditions like bacterial infection and the overuse of NSAIDs. It is not always possible to prevent yourself from catching the bacteria, but you can manage the symptoms while taking antibiotics.
There are also ways to boost your immune system to fight off the virus by consuming vegetables and fruits high in fiber. All in all, stomach ulcers are not always life-threatening, but you should receive treatment immediately before it is too late!
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!