What Are The Risks For People With Ulcers
Why do painkillers increase the risk of gastrointestinal problems? The same chemicals that amplify pain — which some pain medicines block — also help maintain the protective lining of the stomach and intestines. When a painkiller stops these chemicals from working, the digestive tract becomes more vulnerable to damage from gastric acids.
For people with ulcers, the risky pain relievers are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. They include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and ketoprofen, the active ingredients in medicines such as Bufferin, Advil, and Aleve.
Other pain relievers may be less dangerous. Acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol — works differently and poses a much lower risk of GI problems. However, like any drug, it does have side effects of its own. You shouldn’t take any over-the-counter painkiller for more than 10 days without your health care provider’s approval.
The risks from NSAIDs are quite serious. Studies show that people who use NSAIDs are about three times as likely to have gastrointestinal bleeding. Even at low doses, NSAIDs can make mild ulcers much worse.
Aspirin has additional risks. “Aspirin can help prevent blood clotting, which is why it helps people at risk of heart attacks and strokes,” says Cryer. “But in people with ulcers, it can lead to more serious gastrointestinal bleeding.”
What If I Still Need To Take Nsaids
If you take NSAIDs for other conditions, such as arthritis, you should talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of using NSAIDs. Your doctor can help you determine how to continue using an NSAID safely after your peptic ulcer symptoms go away. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine used to prevent NSAID-induced ulcers called Misoprosotol.
Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take. Your doctor can then decide if you may safely take NSAIDs or if you should switch to a different medicine. In either case, your doctor may prescribe a PPI or histamine receptor blocker to protect the lining of your stomach and duodenum.
If you need NSAIDs, you can reduce the chance of a peptic ulcer returning by
- taking the NSAID with a meal
- using the lowest effective dose possible
- avoiding alcohol
Stomach Ulcer Diagnosis And Conventional Treatment
If you suspect you have a stomach ulcer, see your doctor to first rule out other causes of your pain. In order to diagnose a stomach ulcer, your doctor may perform an endoscopy, which allows the doctor to view the inside lining of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Once a diagnosis is verified, treatment options can begin.
Your doctor will likely take your medical history and perform a physical exam along with a blood test, plus ask you about your past use of medications and possibly do an X-ray to locate a stomach ulcer. Testing the blood for H. pylori, plus doing a urea breath test and/or stool test to look for the presence of H. pylori antigens, are common ways to diagnose an ulcer.
The goal of stomach ulcer treatments is to help reduce pain and inflammation in the digestive tract, boost the immune system to fight H. pylori bacteria, prevent complications, and lower the chance for future ulcers from forming or returning.
Today, conventional treatment options for stomach ulcers include:
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What Ulcer Treatments Are Available
If your ulcer is bleeding, your doctor may treat it during an endoscopy procedure by injecting medications into it. Your doctor could also use a clamp or cauterization to seal it off and stop the bleeding.
For most people, doctors treat ulcers with medications, including:
- Proton pump inhibitors : These drugs reduce acid, which allows the ulcer to heal. PPIs include Prilosec®, Prevacid®, Aciphex®, Protonix® and Nexium®.
- Histamine receptor blockers : These drugs also reduce acid production and include Tagamet®, Pepcid®, Zantac® and Axid®.
- Antibiotics: These medications kill bacteria. Doctors use them to treat H. pylori.
- Protective medications: Like a liquid bandage, these medications cover the ulcer in a protective layer to prevent further damage from digestive acids and enzymes. Doctors commonly recommend Carafate® or Pepto-Bismol®.
What To Expect At Home
You have peptic ulcer disease . You may have had tests to help diagnose your ulcer. One of these tests may have been to look for bacteria in your stomach called Helicobacter pylori . This type of infection is a common cause of ulcers.
Most peptic ulcers will heal within about 4 to 6 weeks after treatment begins. Do not stop taking the medicines you have been prescribed, even if symptoms go away quickly.
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Duration Of Peptic Ulcers
Ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori heal when the bacteria is killed. The typical course of treatment includes two weeks of antibiotics along with acid-suppressing medicine. This is followed by an additional four to eight weeks of the acid-suppressing medicine alone.
Its possible for an ulcer to heal temporarily without antibiotics, but it will likely recur or another one will form nearby if the bacteria is not killed.
Peptic ulcers caused by medication usually heal shortly after you stop taking the medication. Doctors typically recommend taking antacids for two to six weeks to assist with healing and relieve pain.
Milk And Other Dairy Products
Some people may find that a cold, creamy cup of milk provides some temporary relief, but in reality it worsens the symptoms of a peptic ulcer.
Whole milk as well as many dairy products are high in fat that can aggravate your current symptoms. Also, the protein in milk may encourage the production of excess stomach acid that can make an ulcer worse.
Even drinking milk on a full stomach can make things worse. Along with whole milk, strong-flavored cheeses, cream and buttermilk should also be avoided.
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Foods To Limit When You Have Acid Reflux And An Ulcer
Some people who have an ulcer also have acid reflux. In some people, certain foods can relax the lower part of the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter or LES. A relaxed LES makes it easier for acid to back up into the esophagus and cause heartburn, indigestion, and pain.
Foods that may make acid reflux worse include:
Can Peptic Ulcers Be Prevented
Doctors arent sure how H. pylori bacteria spread from person to person. The bacteria have been found in saliva , so kissing may be one way. They also may spread through food, water, or contact with vomit thats infected with the bacteria.
Regular use of NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems and bleeding in some people. Acetaminophen does not cause stomach ulcers and is a good alternative to NSAIDs.
As with many infections, washing your hands well and often is an important part of ulcer prevention. This is extra important after you use the bathroom and before you eat. And take good care of your body by exercising regularly and not smoking or drinking.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Peptic Ulcer Does It Cause Pain
Ulcers do not always cause symptoms. Sometimes, a serious complication such as bleeding or a sudden, bad upper abdominal pain is the first sign of an ulcer.
The most common symptom of peptic ulcers is abdominal pain.
- The pain is usually in the upper middle part of the abdomen, above the belly button and below the breastbone.
- The ulcer pain can feel like burning, or gnawing, and it may go through to the back.
- Pain often comes several hours after a meal when the stomach is empty.
- The pain is often worse at night and early morning.
- It can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
- The ulcer pain may be relieved by food, antacids, or vomiting.
Other symptoms of peptic ulcers include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
Severe ulcers may cause bleeding in the stomach or duodenum. Bleeding is sometimes the only symptom of an ulcer. This bleeding can be fast or slow. Fast bleeding reveals itself in one of the following ways:
- Vomiting of blood or dark material that looks something like coffee grounds: This is an emergency and warrants an immediate visit to an emergency department.
- Blood in the stool or black, tarry, sticky-looking stools
Slow bleeding is often more difficult to detect, because it has no dramatic symptoms.
- The usual result is low blood cell count .
- The symptoms of anemia are tiredness , lack of energy , weakness, rapid heartbeat , and pale skin .
What Causes Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers occur when the layer protecting the stomach lining from stomach acid breaks down. This allows the stomach lining to become damaged.
This is usually caused by:
- an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or aspirin particularly if theyre taken for a long time or at high doses
Theres little evidence that stress or certain foods causes stomach ulcers.
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How Do Pain Relief Drugs Work
In a certain way, all pain is in your head. When we feel pain, its the result of an electrical signal being sent from the nerves in a part of your body to your brain.
But the whole process isnt electrical. When tissue is injured , the cells release certain chemicals in response. These chemicals cause inflammation and amplify the electrical signal coming from the nerves. As a result, they increase the pain you feel.
Painkillers work by blocking the effects of these pain chemicals. The problem is that you cant focus most pain relievers specifically on your headache or bad back. Instead, it travels through your whole body. This can cause some unexpected side effects.
What To Eat When You Have An Ulcer
If you have an ulcer, eating can often be a bit of a challenge. Ulcers can cause meal time to be painful if its a gastric ulcer, or can result in pain hours after eating if its an ulcer located in the duodenum. If you have one, you may be wondering what to eat when you have an ulcer. Here are a few tips and tricks that may make meal time a little less painful while your ulcer heals.
1. No matter what you eat, make sure you do so in small portions. Large meals will overwhelm your already sensitive stomach, and can even result in an overproduction of acid, which will exacerbate an existing ulcer. So, rather than eating a few large meals every day go for smaller more frequent ones. That helps your bodys digestive system and makes the healing process go more smoothly.
2. Focus on easily digestible foods, like whole grain seedless breads, certain low acid fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products , lean meats, fish and creamed nuts .
3. Above all, focus on maintaining a balanced diet. Providing your body with the proper nutrition will help it heal much faster.
4. Avoid the following foods if you have an ulcer: Vegetables like onions and tomatoes, anything high in acid breads that are high in fat like croissants high acid fruits, like grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and citrus juices whole milk products and creams highly seasoned meats, poultry and fish deli meats sardines fried foods nuts gravy and high fat desserts, like cakes, cookies, pastries and donuts.
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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.
What If A Peptic Ulcer Doesn’t Heal
Most often, medicines heal a peptic ulcer. If an H. pylori infection caused your peptic ulcer, you should finish all of your antibiotics and take any other medicines your doctor prescribes. The infection and peptic ulcer will heal only if you take all medicines as your doctor prescribes.
When you have finished your medicines, your doctor may do another breath or stool test in 4 weeks or more to be sure the H. pylori infection is gone. Sometimes, H. pylori bacteria are still present, even after you have taken all the medicines correctly. If the infection is still present, your peptic ulcer could return or, rarely, stomach cancer could develop. Your doctor will prescribe different antibiotics to get rid of the infection and cure your peptic ulcer.
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What Treatments Can Relieve Ulcer Pain
While over-the-counter medications can treat an upset stomach, they are generally not effective in treating ulcers. And taking over-the-counter painkillers could worsen the problem. That is why its better to see a doctor, who may combine several medications and therapies to relieve pain, cure the infection, and prevent it from worsening. Medications usually include:
Your doctor may also recommend making lifestyle modifications, including:
- Avoiding spicy and oily food
Bleeding Peptic Ulcer: Treatment
A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach or duodenum . Your ulcer is bleeding or at high risk of bleeding. This means that you need treatment right away. Treatment can include medicines. It may also include a procedure such as endoscopy, angiography, or surgery. Your provider will work with you to decide which treatments are best for you. Read on to learn more about each type of treatment.
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If Food Isnt The Culprit How Did We Get Here
Say hello to Helicobacter pylori , the bacteria best known for causing stomach ulcers and gastritis .
Gastritis occurs when the stomach lining weakens, allowing stomach acid to seep in and create a burning sensation, typically felt in the middle part of your stomach and chest.
Whats more, salty and fatty foods can actually alter the cells in your stomach, increasing the likeliness of an H. pylori infection. Adios potato chips!
No taco shaming!
While a specific diet wont cause stomach ulcers, research shows that certain foods may help your body fight off that ulcer-causing H. pylori.
The best preventative defense against H. pylori includes *wait for it* fruits, veggies, and probiotics. Shocking, we know. They help protect your gut, fight bacteria, strengthen your immune system, and more.
Add these to your shopping list:
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What To Eat If You Have A Stomach Ulcer
Since H. pylori bacteria is now known to be an important cause of ulcer formation, scientists are exploring what foods may have a role in fighting against an infection.
In addition to taking the antibiotics and acid-blocking medications recommended by your doctor for your ulcer treatment, eating these foods may also be helpful against the ulcer-causing bacteria:
for ulcer treatment. These foods, such as miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi, may prevent reinfection.
Turmeric is currently being studied as a potential treatment for ulcers as well.
Garlic, decaffeinated green tea, and licorice round out the list of things you might want to incorporate in your diet.
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Treatment For A Stomach Ulcer
Special diets are now known to have very little impact on the prevention or treatment of stomach ulcers. Treatment options can include:
- medication including antibiotics, to destroy the H. pylori colony, and drugs to help speed the healing process. Different drugs need to be used in combination some of the side effects can include diarrhoea and rashes. Resistance to some of these antibiotics is becoming more common
- subsequent breath tests used to make sure the H. pylori infection has been treated successfully
- changes to existing medication the doses of arthritis medication, aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medication can be altered slightly to reduce their contributing effects on the stomach ulcer.
- reducing acid tablets are available to reduce the acid content in the gastric juices
- lifestyle modifications including quitting cigarettes, since smoking reduces the natural defences in the stomach and impairs the healing process.
Causes Of Stomach Ulcer
Stomach ulcer results from the rupture of the protective layer of stomach lining which protected the stomach wall from the stomach acids. This usually happens as a result of
- Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection
- Long and continual intake of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs , such as ibuprofen or aspirin, that too at high doses
However, little evidence has been found supporting the fact that consumption of certain types of foods or stress can cause stomach ulcers directly.
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