Who can get affected by stomach ulcers?
Generally men are more affected by duodenal ulcers than women. These typically develop between 40-50 years of age.
People between 60-70 years of age are more likely to get gastric ulcers.
What are the symptoms of stomach ulcers?
Some of the symptoms of duodenal ulcers are similar to that of gastric ulcers
- Burning pain in the upper abdomen especially between meals, early in the morning, after drinking citrus juices, coffee, alcohol or taking aspirin.
- Dark, bloody stools
- Acidic feeling in the stomach
- Bloating after eating
- Unexpected weight loss
You should call a doctor immediately if
- You have been diagnosed with stomach ulcers and start showing symptoms of anemia, fatigue and a pale complexion. This may indicate that the ulcer is bleeding.
- You have symptoms of a peptic ulcer develop severe back pain which may be caused by the ulcer perforating the stomach wall.
- You have symptoms of a peptic ulcer and vomit blood or pass dark red, bloody or black stools. These symptoms indicate internal bleeding.
- You have a peptic ulcer and start feeling cold and faint. These may be due to shock on account of blood loss.
What causes stomach ulcers?
It was earlier believed that factors such as stress, eating fatty foods, smoking and drinking caused a buildup of stomach acids that eroded the lining of the stomach.
- According to recent research, it is now believed that bacterial infections cause peptic ulcers. The bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori has been found to be present in 92% of duodenal ulcer cases and 73% of gastric ulcer cases.
- Over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen also exacerbate ulcers. Since the elderly are generally affected by arthritis and take aspirin or ibuprofen for pain relief, gastric ulcers are more likely to develop in the elderly.
- People who smoke heavily are more likely to develop duodenal ulcers.
- People who drink excessively are more prone to developing esophageal ulcers
- People taking aspiring frequently or for prolonged periods are more likely to get gastric ulcers.
- It is also likely that aging bile ducts allow excess bile to pervade the stomach and erode the lining
- For no apparent cause, people with type A blood are more likely to develop cancerous gastric ulcers. People with type O blood tend to get duodenal ulcers.
How are stomach ulcers diagnosed?
Since symptoms of gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer are similar, the type of ulcer is diagnosed through various tests such as a barium x-ray which enables your doctor to determine the location, type and severity of the ulcer.
Other diagnostic tests include a gastroscopy or endoscopy in which a tube is inserted down the throat to give a direct view of the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The doctor may also conduct a biopsy.
How are stomach ulcers conventionally treated?
Over-the-counter antacids containing magnesium trisilicate and aluminum hydroxide can help reduce the amount of stomach acid.
Antacids can prevent the absorption of nutrients and so you may be prescribed Histamine H2 blockers which include medicines such as cimetidine, ranitidine and famotidine. While taking histamine blockers you will be instructed not to take antacids.
If the ulcer is caused by bacterial infections, you may be prescribed a combination of antibiotics such as amoxicillin or tetracycline with metronidazole along with a bismuth drug and histamine H2 blockers.
If these treatments are unsuccessful or serious complications have developed on account of the ulcer then surgery may be prescribed.
What are some natural ways to prevent and treat stomach ulcers?
- Avoid spicy and fatty foods as these generally irritate the stomach lining
- Reduce milk consumption as it actually stimulates stomach acid secretion
- Stop smoking and drink in moderation
- Avoid over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and NSAIDS as these irritate the stomach lining and may also prevent a bleeding ulcer from healing
- Do not take excessive Iron supplements and this can also irritate the stomach lining.
- Drinking cabbage juice is said to increase the growth of mucin-producing cells
- Drinking an infusion of the herb licorice is said to stimulate mucus secretion by the stomach. This should not be taken for more than a few days
- Reducing stress and anxiety also helps reduce symptoms. Meditation, yoga, music therapy, acupuncture, massages, acupressure are all useful remedies in reducing stress
- Alsarex is a herbal ayurvedic formulation which is excellent for relieving symptoms and promoting the healing of peptic ulcers.
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