Stomach Ulcers and What You Can Do About Them

Stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers), which are painful sores that may appear on the lining of the stomach, small intestine, or oesophagus, are another affliction. These ulcers form when the stomach lining and small intestines that protect against the acid are eroded. Hence, the acid directly touches the fragile layer underneath the lining. 

Such interaction can induce inflammation, pain, and horrific manifestations like bleeding or perforation of the stomach wall in the worst-case scenario. Although initial studies primarily attributed stomach ulcers to stress and spicy food, now it’s been established that the majority of cases arise from bacterial infection or NSAID overuse. 

Within this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of stomach ulcers, in addition to the strategies people use to relieve their symptoms.

Peptic ulcer disease - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

1. The Primary Causes of Stomach Ulcers Include:

1.1. Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) Infection:

This bacterium is one of the most common causes of stomach ulcers. H.pylori can weaken the protective mucous layer of the stomach and duodenum, allowing stomach acid to penetrate and damage the lining.

1.2. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs):

Regular use of NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can irritate the stomach lining and increase the risk of developing ulcers. These medications inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which help protect the stomach lining.

1.3. Smoking:

Smoking can increase the production of stomach acid and interfere with the healing process of stomach ulcers. It also weakens the stomach’s protective mucous layer.

1.4. Excessive Alcohol Consumption:

Alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach and increase the production of stomach acid, making it more susceptible to damage.

1.5. Stress:

While stress does not directly cause stomach ulcers, it can worsen symptoms and delay healing by increasing stomach acid production and reducing blood flow to the stomach lining.

Young man in sleepwear suffering from headache in morning
Image Source: Pexels

2. Symptoms:

  • Abdominal Pain: Continuous pain in the upper abdomen may be reported as severe burns or a nagging sensation.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea is prevalent when ingesting food and sometimes causes vomiting.
  • Loss of Appetite: A weight loss causes a loss of appetite or feeling full early after eating a little bit.
  • Indigestion: Being sick after consuming specific food or drinks; on the other side, I have been passing gas, distended belly, cramps, and constipation.
  • Heartburn: Chest burning or indigestion, often caused by acid reflux.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss occurs despite the absence of any changes in eating patterns.
  • Bloody or Dark Stool: Sometimes, blood can be seen coming out of vomit or even stool, meaning bleeding in the digestive tract.
  • Fatigue: That “very weary” feeling resulting from blood loss anaemia.
  • Symptoms Worsening at Night: During the night or between meals, the subjects may start complaining of intensified pain and discomfort, disrupting their sleep.

It should be mentioned that not all stomach ulcer sufferers will experience the symptoms mentioned above, and some of them may not have any complaints even in the first stages. You must go to the hospital if you are experiencing prolonged or severe symptoms. This would help in the timely diagnosis and treatment of any medical problem.

Woman Suffering from a Stomach Pain
Image Source: Pexels

3. Diagnosis:

It is fundamental to see a healthcare practitioner who will perform the precise diagnostic procedure if your sulphurous stomach symptoms do not go away. The most usual kinds of diagnosis are a mixture of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests, which also include:

3.1. Endoscopy:

One of the standard diagnostic procedures is a thin, flexible tube containing a camera (endoscope) that is put down the throat and into the stomach to allow visual assessment of the lining and to search for any ulcers when they might exist.

3.2. Upper Gastrointestinal (GI) Series:

Barium swallow, another name for it, is an X-ray test that involves swallowing a chalky material containing barium. It is administered by a radiologist over the oesophagus, stomach, and small intestine areas and helps better visualize the X-ray scan.

3.3. H.pylori Testing:

It may involve using breath, blood, stool, or tissue biopsy, and any of these are collected during an endoscopy test to see if they are H. pylori-positive.

3.4. Laboratory Tests:

Iron levels may be checked with a blood test, as anaemia can also be a side effect of bleeding ulcers. A blood test can also reveal any infections that might have been induced by the ulcer bleeding.

Doctor Touching the Arm of a Patient
Image Source: Pexels

4. Treatment:

The treatment of stomach ulcers is a multidimensional plan that addresses symptoms, optimizes healing and minimizes the risks of complications. The type of underlying cause and the severity of symptoms determine the kind of treatment (medical or addiction) for the ulcer.

4.1. Antibiotics:

Should a particular instance of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection be discovered beyond doubt as the primary underlying cause, then, most certainly, a case of antibiotics is a strategic intervention that becomes necessary. 

These antibiotics, often given in the formulation of combination therapy, contain widely recognized antibiotics like amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and metronidazole.

These antibiotics work in close collaboration to extirpate bacteria that cause ulcer problems. Antibiotics used in removing the H. pylori infection help not only treat the present ulcer but also position themselves as a mechanism that inhibits its recurrence, promoting the digestive system’s long-term wellness.

4.2. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs):

PPIs are the mainstay therapy for managing stomach ulcers. These medications are potent inhibitors of gastric acid production. Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole, esomeprazole, and lansoprazole stop the function of the proton pump that creates acid in the parietal cells in the stomach.

This effect, in turn, lowers the acidity within the stomach lumen. This decline in acid generation provides respite from the symptoms of ulceration by reducing the intensity of the discomfort and further creating a soothing environment for the ulcer to obtain proper healing. 

Peptic ulcer disease is prevalent among the human population, and on top of that, it is usually accompanied by H. pylori infection. PPIs are among the standard treatments, and their efficacy in promoting the healing of stomach ulcers is well-established in the medical literature.

4.3. Histamine-2 (H2) Receptor Antagonists:

By the way, H2 receptor antagonists are the medicines of the histamine-2 (H2) receptor class acting alongside the PPIs in controlling the recurrence of stomach ulcers. 

For example, histamine-2 receptor blockers such as ranitidine and famotidine specifically inhibit histamine-2 receptors, which lie on the stomach’s parietal cells. Thus, biotic acid production is limited to some extent. 

Usually used in tandem with PPIs, H2 receptor antagonists act as adjuvant medication in cases where stronger acid suppression is needed or when PPI monotherapy fails to curb the symptoms that become evident.

Woman Holding Half-full Glass and White Medicine Pill
Image Source: Pexels

4.4. Antacids:

OTC antacids will be considered one of the most effective substitutes for treating stomach ulcer symptoms. These medications are formulated to be alkaline, neutralizing excess stomach acid and reducing the burning sensation and discomfort of the affected individuals. 

These medications increase the acidic pH of gastric secretions; consequently, gastrointestinal distress from heartburn and indigestion is prevented, granting patients an immediate break from their ulcer-related suffering. 

Sadly, antacids are not primarily prescribed for the treatment of symptoms but rather to supplement the medications that need weeks to take effect, offering patients a coating for their symptoms until they take effect.

4.5. Avoidance of NSAIDs and Alcohol

Acknowledging and remedying the exact factors that cause ulcer formation in the stomach are the keys to the proper handling and prevention of peptic ulcers. Cautious adherence to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and controlled alcohol intake occupy a prominent position. 

NSAIDs are recognized for their ability to irritate the stomach walls and cause ulcerative potentiation, which makes them a changeable factor requiring thorough consideration for patients with an inclination toward the development of such an affliction. 

One way to confront this problem is by implementing strategies for alternative pain management or gastroprotective measures for the population using NSAIDs. This way, we propose to reduce the risk of ulcer formation and the problems that can result. As in ulcer prevention, abstaining from or moderating alcohol consumption should also be a key role.

Too much alcohol could only aggravate gut irritation or delay ulcer healing. What better shows the importance of shunning NSAIDs and alcohol in the comprehensive treatment of stomach ulcers than ensuring the formation of an environment that facilitates the healing and regeneration of mucosal tissue?

4.6. Lifestyle Modifications:

When combined with medication, such strategies can be a determining factor in managing stomach ulcers by encompassing various aspects of life. Many studies have identified several areas of modifiable risk factors; smoking is a key one among them, which has been linked to being the most potent factor in ulcer development. 

A smoking cessation option undeniably offers recovering people who are suffering from stomach ulcers the chance to heal and regenerate their bodies, as smoking is the leading cause of the recurrence of ulcers. 

In addition, the integration of stress management techniques such as mindfulness-based practice and cognitive behaviour therapy is crucial in ulcer management because it is already established that stress correlates with gastric hypersecretion. 

Through stress management, individuals can ease stress levels and lessen the harmful effects of stress on gastric function, creating an environment favourable for ulcer healing. 

Advanced nutritional modifications, too, include a fibre-rich diet comprising fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which aid in keeping the gastrointestinal organs healthy and the ulcers curable. 

Stomach ulcer treatment is most effective when lifestyle interventions combined with pharmacological interventions are prioritized. In this way, patients can successfully integrate their clinical outcomes and ensure long-term gastric health.

Woman Doing Yoga Beside her Dog
Image Source: Pexels

5. Prevention:

Some risk factors for ulcers, like genetic origins and age, can’t be controlled. Still, there are some preventive measures that individuals can consider to ensure that the risk is less than adequate or even nil.

5.1. Avoiding NSAIDs:

If possible, try to reduce the amount of NSAIDs taken or even taken with food to minimize the worst effects on the lining of the stomach. Please consult a physician because he may prescribe something like acetaminophen.

5.2. Treating H.pylori Infection:

Once one is found to be infected with H. pylori, the medical advice of a healthcare professional should be followed strictly, along with using antibiotics daily for the prespecified time to prevent future ulcers.

5.3. Limiting Alcohol and Tobacco:

Limiting alcohol use and quitting smoking are two ways that can help reduce the risk of getting stomach ulcers or other gastrointestinal conditions.

5.4. Managing Stress:

Include stress-minimizing behaviours such as running, meditation, or sessions with a therapist in your daily schedule. These are good measures to help protect the lining of your GI tract from damage that could be caused by chronic stress.

5.5. Eating a Healthy Diet:

Apart from having meals with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat, it is also essential to maintain a balanced diet to improve digestion and reduce the tendency to have ulcers.

A Person Touching His Belly
Image Source: Pexels

6. Closing Remarks

Finally, it should be mentioned that peptic ulcers are a frequent disease caused by the formation of affected areas on the mucosa of the stomach, duodenum, or oesophagus. However, most cases of the disease are triggered by factors like H.pylori infection and the use of NSAIDs.

The second category includes contributions from some lifestyle factors such as smoking, consumption of excessive alcohol, and stress. It is equally vital to prompt diagnosis and treatment to manage symptoms, accelerate the healing process, and reduce the risk of unnecessary complications. For instance, early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis may result in a faster and more complete recovery. 

By making lifestyle changes, complying with prescribed treatments, and embracing a healthy lifestyle, individuals can learn to prevent stomach ulcers and promote their digestive health. If you suspect that you may have a gastric ulcer or experience an uneven appetite, you should act without hesitation.

Last Updated on by AnoushkaRoy

Author

Khushboo_29

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *