What is Stomach Ulcers?

What are Stomach Ulcers?

Stomach ulcers, often referred to as gastric ulcers, are lesions that form on the stomach lining. Duodenal ulcers are ulcers that develop in the section of the intestine that is just beyond the stomach.1

Stomach ulcers and duodenal ulcers have the same symptoms and are treated similarly.1 

Symptoms of Stomach Ulcers

There are numerous symptoms associated with stomach ulcers, the most common being a burning sensation and pain in your abdomen. When your stomach is empty, the discomfort is usually more substantial, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to many hours.2

Other symptoms of stomach ulcers are as follows - 

  • Weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite due to pain/discomfort
  • Acid reflux 
  • Indigestion 
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn

According to the NHS Website, you should seek immediate medical assistance by calling 911 or going to A&E if you have a dark stool, a sudden sharp pain in your tummy that worsens, and if you are vomiting blood.1

In some cases, your blood may appear brown and grainy, being described to resemble coffee grounds.1

Causes of Stomach Ulcers

When the thick coating of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive fluids is weakened, stomach ulcers develop. This enables the digestive acids to eat away at the stomach's lining tissues, resulting in an ulcer.2

The most common causes of stomach ulcers are as follows:1 

  • use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen over an extended period
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium infection - a bacteria that can inflame the stomach lining, causing an infection and, most commonly, stomach ulcers.

These can weaken the stomach's defences against the acid it produces to digest food, causing damage to the stomach lining and forming an ulcer.

Treatments & Remedies for Stomach Ulcers

The causes of your ulcer will determine the type of treatment you receive. You must work with your GP to determine the best course of treatment. Most ulcers can be treated with a doctor's prescription and normally heal in a few months.1 

  • H. pylori infection -  Antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors will be required (PPIs). PPIs inhibit the production of acid by stomach cells
  • Probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that may aid in the elimination of H. pylori
  • H2-receptor antagonists, a type of alternative drug, are sometimes used instead of PPIs.
  • An extra medication known as antacids may be administered to you to relieve your symptoms temporarily. 
  • After 4 to 6 weeks, you may have another gastroscopy to be sure the ulcer has healed.2

Although diet and lifestyle choices are not directly linked to the cause of stomach ulcers, it's probable that certain foods aid in the elimination of H. pylori.

Foods that may aid in the fight against H. pylori or the growth of the body's beneficial bacteria include: 

  • Leafy greens 
  • Apples
  • Olive Oil 
  • Probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurt 
  • Berries, numerous types
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, stomach ulcers are caused when the mucus protecting your digestive system is weakened, enabling the digestive acids to eat away at the stomach lining.

This is a painful and uncomfortable condition, so it is essential to understand the cause of the stomach ulcers to treat them correctly.

Once the correct course of treatment is determined and carried out, you should follow up with your doctor after around 6 weeks to ensure the treatment has worked successfully.

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