What Are The Causes
Contrary to popular belief, stress and spicy foods do not cause stomach ulcers. They may aggravate an already existing ulcer but definitely not be the cause for one.
Another cause of stomach ulcers is the long-term use of pain medications known as NSAIDs . NSAIDs can weaken the stomach linings ability to resist acid made in the stomach.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen are some examples of NSAID medications.
Signs You Have A Stomach Ulcer And Natural Remedies
As many as 1 out of every 10 people in the US and other western countries will experience a stomach ulcer at some point in their lives.
These irritating and often painful sores in the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine can be easy to treat, but if not addressed, can cause serious health problems.
The stomach and small intestine have protective mucus that lines them and keeps them safe from erosion from the very acid we need for healthy digestion. Ulcers happen when something weakens or alters this mucus coating, and the tissues become damaged from exposure to acid.
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What Is The Cause Of Peptic Ulcers
When you eat, your stomach produces hydrochloric acid and an enzyme called pepsin to digest the food.
- The food is partially digested in the stomach and then moves on to the duodenum to continue the process.
- Peptic ulcers occur when the acid and enzyme overcome the defense mechanisms of the gastrointestinal tract and erode the mucosal wall.
- Now it is understood that people with ulcers have an imbalance between acid and pepsin coupled with the digestive tract’s inability to protect itself from these harsh substances.
- Research done in the 1980s showed that some ulcers are caused by infection with a bacterium named Helicobacter pylori, usually called H pylori.
- Not everyone who gets an ulcer is infected with H pylori. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause ulcers if taken regularly.
Some types of medical therapy can contribute to ulcer formation. The following factors can weaken the protective mucosal barrier of the stomach increasing the chances of getting an ulcer and slow the healing of existing ulcers.
- Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , and newer anti-inflammatory medications
- Radiation therapy:-used for diseases such as cancer
People who take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications are at an increased risk even if they do not have H pylori infection.
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H Pylori: What It Is And How It Contributes To Ulcers
While there are a handful of common causes for ulcers, including overuse of NSAID pain relievers and frequent smoking or alcohol use, there is a bacteria that can frequently be blamed for triggering the damage to the protective mucus of the digestive tract.
This bacteria is referred to as H. pylori, short for helicobacter pylori. It is a spiral-shaped bacteria that attacks the mucus of the stomach and upper small intestine. The resulting damage leads to holes in the coating that are vulnerable to irritation from the bacteria itself as well as the searing digestive acid.
Theres no definitive understanding as to how H. pylori is contracted, but it is a common bacteria that can be present in the digestive tract. Its thought to spread through saliva contact or through food and water.
The problem with stomach ulcers caused from this bacteria is that they dont always produce symptoms. As many as 75 percent of people with ulcers wont have symptoms.
On their own, stress and spicy foods wont cause ulcers, but when H. pylori is present, these factors can aggravate the condition and lead to the formation of an ulcer.
Bottom line: H. pylori is a bacteria that attacks the mucus of the stomach and upper small intestine, contributing to and causing ulcers. While it can often go undetected, it can be aggravated by outside factors such as stress and spicy food.
Who Is More Likely To Get Ulcers
One in 10 people develops an ulcer. Risk factors that make ulcers more likely include:
- Frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , a group of common pain relievers that includes ibuprofen .
- A family history of ulcers.
- Illness such as liver, kidney or lung disease.
- Regularly drinking alcohol.
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What Happens After Treatment
A repeat gastroscopy is usually advised a few weeks after treatment has finished. This is mainly to check that the ulcer has healed. It is also to be doubly certain that the ‘ulcer’ was not due to stomach cancer. If your ulcer was caused by H. pylori then a test is advised to check that the H. pylori infection has gone. This is done at least four weeks after the course of combination therapy has finished.
Symptoms And Characteristics Of Venous Leg Ulcers
Venous disorders manifest in multiple ways, including presentation with varicose veins and vein-related skin trophic changes, ranging from pigmented dermatitis to lipodermatosclerosis, atrophie blanche, and the presence of the ulcer itself. Patients may experience a variety of symptoms including aching, pain, feeling a burning sensation, cramping, fatigue, restless legs, skin irritation, muscle cramps, heaviness, tension, feelings of swelling, and itching.7
For a leg ulcer to be classified as a VLU, the clinical symptoms should be consistent with CVI, and a full evaluation should be able to differentiate primary, secondary, or congenital venous conditions and establish whether venous obstruction, reflux, or both are present.2
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Can You Prevent A Peptic Ulcer
While stress and spicy foods can make symptoms of a peptic ulcer worse, they donât seem to make you more likely to have one. But a few other things can raise your chances.
Be careful when you take pain relievers. Some people who have arthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for weeks or months at a time to ease pain and swelling. These medicines can affect the mucus that protects your stomach against acid and make you more likely to have peptic ulcers.
These pain relievers include:
You’re more likely to get an ulcer while taking one of these if you:
- Are over age 65
- Are infected with H. pylori bacteria
- Take more than one NSAID at a time
- Have had a peptic ulcer in the past
- Also take a steroid drug or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
To lower your chances for peptic ulcers while you take NSAIDs:
- Use the lowest possible dose to control your symptoms, and stop taking them as soon as you no longer need them.
- Take your medicine with food.
- Don’t drink alcohol while youâre taking these medicines.
While you’re on NSAIDs, you can take medicine to lower the amount of acid your stomach makes. Drugs that can do that include:
You can do some things to make an infection less likely:
Signs That Your Horse Might Have An Ulcer
Ulcers in horses can be challenging to identify as they sometimes present with quite generic symptoms. Only veterinary diagnosis will confirm whether your horse has ulcers or not but what are the telltale signs that you should keep an eye out for? Read our handy guide and become better informed.
Ulcers can present with a range of symptoms that can easily be attributed to other conditions. If you suspect something is wrong then your vet should evaluate your horse as it could be ulcers or a different issue. Ulcers rarely heal on their own without veterinary intervention. If your horse does have ulcers, your vet will need to determine which type they are as there are two different classifications:
- ESGUS Ulcers in the upper region of the horses stomach which is called the Squamous, really the lower end of the oesophagus lining and the most common of the two types of ulcer
- EGGUS Ulcers in the lower glandular region of the horses stomach
These are some of the symptoms a horse with ulcers can exhibit:
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What Is Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcer disease is a condition in which painful sores or ulcers develop in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine . Normally, a thick layer of mucus protects the stomach lining from the effect of its digestive juices. But many things can reduce this protective layer, allowing stomach acid to damage the tissue.
Bloating Is Signs Of Ulcers
One of the mistaken signs of ulcers is stomach bloating.
Many people suffering from ulcers at an early stage dismiss a bloated stomach as gas but it might be more serious than that.
I know you may be one of the people dismissing a bloated stomach. However, bloating is one of the earliest signs of ulcers.
For instance, if your bloating comes accompanied with pain in your midsection, then it might be a sign of ulcers.
Therefore, you need to go for checkups as early as possible.
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What Kind Of Doctor Treats Peptic Ulcers
- If you suspect you may have a peptic ulcer, you may first be diagnosed by your family practitioner or internist.
- Children or teenagers may see a pediatrician.
- For further treatment you will likely be referred to a gastroenterologist, a specialist in disorders of the digestive tract.
- If you have an emergency such as vomiting or severe abdominal pain you will be seen by an emergency medicine specialist in an emergency room.
- In the rare case where surgery is needed, you may see a general surgeon.
If Your Ulcer Was Caused By An Anti
If possible, you should stop taking the anti-inflammatory medicine. This allows the ulcer to heal. You will also normally be prescribed an acid-suppressing medicine for several weeks. This stops the stomach from making acid and allows the ulcer to heal. However, in many cases, the anti-inflammatory medicine is needed to ease symptoms of arthritis or other painful conditions, or aspirin is needed to protect against blood clots. In these situations, one option is to take an acid-suppressing medicine each day indefinitely. This reduces the amount of acid made by the stomach and greatly reduces the chance of an ulcer forming again.
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How Common Are Stomach Ulcers
It’s not known exactly how common stomach ulcers are. They have become much less common since the 1980s because of much more effective treatments. So people with stomach ulcers now usually get better much more quickly.
The term ‘peptic ulcer’ is used to describe ulcers that are caused by too much acid in the stomach. This includes stomach ulcers and also ulcers in the first part of the gut known as the duodenum. Stomach ulcers are less common than duodenal ulcers.
Warning Signs Of Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcer disease occurs when an individual experiences the perpetual development of peptic ulcers. These ulcers present as open sores, which develop on the lining of the stomach and in the small intestine. There are two types of peptic ulcers: gastric and duodenal. Gastric ulcers develop on the inside lining of the stomach, whereas duodenal ulcers affect the upper part of the small intestine.
Peptic ulcers may be caused by a variety of things, including a bacterial infection, long-term use of anti-inflammatories, stress, and even excessive consumptions of spicy foods. Individuals who smoke or consume excessive amounts of alcohol are also at an increased risk of developing peptic ulcers.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Stomach Ulcer
Most people with a stomach ulcer do not experience any symptoms. The most common symptom is burning pain in the upper abdomen. The pain can travel to the chest and neck, bellybutton, or back.
Other less common symptoms include:
- feeling full and bloated, or belching
- not being able to tolerate fatty foods
Sometimes, stomach ulcers can lead to more serious symptoms, such as:
- a sudden sharp pain in the stomach that gets worse
- vomiting blood
- blood in your stool or black, tarry stools
- weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
How Stomach Ulcers Are Treated
With treatment, most stomach ulcers will heal within a month or two. The treatment recommended for you will depend on what caused the ulcer.
Most people will be prescribed a medication called a proton pump inhibitor to reduce the amount of acid their stomach produces and allow the ulcer to heal naturally.
If an H. pylori infection is responsible for the ulcers, antibiotics will also be used to kill the bacteria, which should prevent the ulcer coming back.
If the ulcers are caused by the use of NSAIDs, PPIs are usually prescribed and your doctor will discuss whether you should keep using NSAIDs.
Alternative medication to NSAIDs, such as paracetamol, may be recommended.
Stomach ulcers can come back after treatment, although this is less likely to happen if the underlying cause is addressed.
Read more about treating stomach ulcers.
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Nausea and vomiting are also due to the inflammatory cascade that occurs as a result of the ulcers development, says Modi. The inflammation of the stomach lining itself causes intermittent contractions and if the muscles of the abdominal wall contract with enough force, it can cause full-on vomiting, says Rudolph Bedford, M.D., gastroenterologist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
In some cases, these symptoms strike because the ulcer is causing a blockage in the stomach and food isnt able to pass easily into the small intestine. Your doctor can determine the exact cause of the ulcer and, most likely, treat it with antacid medicationsbut, if theres evidence of a blockage, youll be admitted to the hospital for further treatment, says Modi.
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Will Surgery Cure A Peptic Ulcer
Medical therapy works in most people with peptic ulcers. Sometimes, medical therapy does not work, or a person can’t take the therapy for some reason. Surgery is an alternative to medical therapy for these people.
Surgical operations often used in peptic ulcers include the following:
- Vagotomy: Cutting the vagus nerve, which transmits messages from the brain to the stomach, can reduce acid secretion. However, this can also interfere with other functions of the stomach. A newer operation cuts only the part of the nerve that affects acid secretion.
- Antrectomy: This is often done in conjunction with a vagotomy. It involves removing the lower part of the stomach . This part of the stomach produces a hormone that increases production of stomach acid. Adjacent parts of the stomach may also be removed.
- Pyloroplasty: This procedure also is sometimes done with vagotomy. It enlarges the opening between the stomach and duodenum to encourage passage of partially digested food. Once the food has passed, acid production normally stops.
- Tying off an artery: If bleeding is a problem, cutting off the blood supply to the ulcer can stop the bleeding.
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Antacids And H2 Blockers
Antacids neutralize existing acid in the stomach. Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, and Amphojel are safe and effective treatments. However, the neutralizing action of these agents is short-lived, and frequent dosing is required. Magnesium containing antacids, such as Maalox and Mylanta, can cause diarrhea, while aluminum containing agents like Amphojel can cause constipation. Ulcers frequently return when antacids are discontinued.
Studies have shown that a protein released in the stomach called histamine stimulates gastric acid secretion. Histamine antagonists are drugs designed to block the action of histamine on gastric cells and reduce the production of acid. Examples of H2 blockers are cimetidine , nizatidine , and famotidine . While H2 blockers are effective in ulcer healing, they have a limited role in eradicating H. pylori without antibiotics. Therefore, ulcers frequently return when H2 blockers are stopped.
How To Have A Healthy Stomach
Whether youre prone to ulcers, or youve never had one before and want to avoid it at all costs, preventing them starts with making sure digestion is optimized. Even if you get H. pylori, a healthy bacterial balance in the stomach and elsewhere in the digestive tract can help to keep it in balance and even eradicate it.
H. pylori affects as much as half of the worlds population, so the chances of having it or getting it at some point are pretty high. Having reduced inflammation in the body as well as eating plenty of certain types of foods, can reduce the chance of H. pylori creating negative health problems, including ulcers.
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