The stomach has a thick layer of mucus that acts as a shield against harmful acids. If something disturbs this balance, acid is produced, which harms the mucus layer. Eventually, this condition may lead to painful and bleeding sores called stomach ulcers. Let us now see in detail about this condition.
What are stomach ulcers?
Sometimes aching sores develop in the lining of the stomach and small intestines. These soars are called stomach ulcers, also called gastric ulcers. Usually, these are peptic ulcers that damage the line of the stomach and the upper section of the small intestine.
The affliction is associated with shrinkage in the thickness of the mucus layer safeguarding the stomach from the digestive juices. This condition lets the digestive juices corrode the tissues surrounding the stomach leading to ulcers.
Cause of stomach ulcers:
There are many causes of ulcers but they are usually caused by:
- Helicobacter pylori (pylori)- a bacterial infection that makes the stomach more vulnerable to ulcers.
- NSAIDs, the medicines mainly used to reduce pain and inflammation. E.g. Ibuprofen, Naproxen & Aspirin.
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a rare digestive disorder that produces unwanted acid in the body.
Symptoms of stomach ulcers:
There are many symptoms to know ulcers, and the symptoms vary based on the severity of the disease. The more critical the ulcer, the more severe are the symptoms.
Common symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
- No urge to eat
- Acid reflux
- Unexplained loss in weight
- Change in appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Blood vomiting
- Dark coloured stools
One must be vigilant for these symptoms to take treatment on time. Normal ulcers may mature into severe bleeding ulcers that can be life-threatening.
Diagnosis and treatment of stomach ulcers:
Diagnosis of ulcers depends on the condition of your ulcers. Your doctor may ask about your medical history. The below tests and procedures are done to diagnose the ulcers:
- Breath test: One has to drink a liquid and breathe into a bag that is sealed later.
- Endoscopy (EGD): A hollow tube is inserted down your throat to examine your stomach and small intestine to rule out any signs of ulcers, bleeding and abnormality in your gastrointestinal tract.
- Biopsy: If an ulcer is present in the stomach, a small tissue may be removed and taken for further investigations. It is called a biopsy.
- Barium swallow: One has to swallow a substance mixed with water. When swallowed, the liquid coats the upper gastrointestinal tract. The test is conducted with the help of x-rays.
It is essential to give proper treatment to ulcers. The treatments depend on the cause of the ulcer. Most ulcers are cured with medicines. In case of more damage, the treatment may lead to surgery also. Prompt therapy to the ulcers is required, or it may advance to critical intensive treatment, ulcer medications and blood transfusion.
There are many non-surgical treatments and antibiotics to treat ulcers due to H.pylori. These antibiotics and drugs are also called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that helps in blocking the stomach cells to produce acids.
The doctor may guide you to follow certain rules considering your ulcer, as follows:
- Use of probiotics
- Avoid NSAIDs
- Bismuth supplements
- H2 acid blockers that restrict the production of acids
Home remedies for stomach ulcers:
The best possible way to eliminate ulcers is to follow a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet. Your everyday diet should include healthy cooked food, fruits and vegetables like:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Green salad
- Seasonal fruits
- Olive oil
- Glutamine rich foods like chicken, egg and others
It is better to avoid spicy and oily foods as it obstructs the healing of the ulcers. Also, follow other natural home remedies if needed after taking the advice of your doctor.
How to prevent ulcers?
Prevention is better than cure, and here are the ways to prevent it.
Regular washing of hands.
Stop or limit the usage of NSAIDs.
Limit or avoid alcohol.
Take food on time and also have water and other liquids frequently.
What is the right time to visit your doctor?
If you see the symptoms in your body, it is advised to see your doctor. It is better not to wait till things turn worse. Timely treatment will obstruct advanced conditions such as bleeding, obstruction, penetration, cancer etc.
To sum up, follow a healthy diet and a good lifestyle to keep ulcers at bay.