What is stomach ulcer
Stomach ulcer is the presence of sores in the tissues that lines the stomach. It is also known as “gastric ulcer” and it is caused when digestive acids reduces the thickness of the mucus layer that lines the stomach. These mucus layers protect the stomach from digestive acids that are secreted during the digestion of food. Stomach ulcer can be well managed and cured by maintaining healthy diet and taking medications. However, it can cause severe complication if left untreated.
What are the causes of stomach ulcer?
The following are the conditions that can cause stomach ulcer:
- Infections that are caused by Helicobacter pylori: H. pylori weakens and deplets the mucus layer that lines the surface of the stomach thereby allowing digestive acids to eat away the tissue that covers the surface of the stomach.
- The long-term use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory(NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin can prevent the production of mucus layer that protects the stomach from digestive acid and this will result into stomach ulcer.
- Smoking and use of tobacco can also contribute to the development of gastric ulcer and increase the risk of complications from the disease.
Does fasting cause ulcer?
There is no clear evidence that fasting cause stomach ulcer, the main cause of this condition are; long term use of pain reliever such as ibuprofen and aspirin, helicobacter pylori infections and smoking or use of tobacco.
Symptoms of stomach ulcer
The symptoms that stomach ulcer present varies and depends on the severity of the ulcer. The most common symptoms of stomach ulcer is a burning sensation between the chest and belly button and the pain becomes more severe when the stomach is empty. These pains may last for minutes or hours depending on the severity of the ulcer.
The following are the symptoms you may experience when you have stomach ulcer:
- Severe pain in the stomach
- Weight loss
- Bloody vomits
- Lost of appetite
- Feeling full easily especially when you eat little food
When do I need to see a doctor?
It is very important you book an appointment and see your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms or if you are vomiting blood or passing out dark sticky stool. Stomach ulcer symptoms may be mild at the beginning but if they are left untreated the condition can worsen and lead to other undesirable complications.
Diagnosis of stomach ulcer
To detect and diagnose stomach ulcer, your doctor access your medical history and also ask you about the symptoms you experience, how often and severe the symptoms are, and the medications you have been using. In order to screen helicobacter pylori your doctor will order for a blood, stool or breath test. The breathe test works by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide expelled after taking a liquid or tablets that contains urea before the test.
Other clinical test that are used to detect stomach ulcer include:
- Endoscopy: a thin, long and flexible tube with camera is inserted into the upper gastrointestinal tract and small intestine to examine if there is ulcer or bleeding. A piece of the tissue that covers the surface of the stomach can also be taken and sent to the laboratory for further test.
- Barium swallow test: this test works by drinking a thick liquid (barium) which enhances X-ray image of the stomach and the small intestine to be taken.
Treatment of stomach ulcer
The treatment procedures for ulcer depend on the cause and the severity of the ulcer. If the ulcer is caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori antibiotics may be recommended and if it is as a result of NSAIDs (Pain killers), some medications can also be recommended for proper treatment.
The following are the medications that can be used to treat gastric ulcer disease:
Antibiotics that kill Helicobacter pylori
Chronic H. pylori infections reduces the thickness of mucus that protects the stomach from digestive assist. This bacteria can be killed by taking and combining antibiotics such as tetracycline, clarithromycin , levofloxacin and amoxicillin. Your doctor may also recommend that you combine this activities with proton pump inhibitors to reduce acid production in the body.
Medications that restricts acid production
Your doctor may also prescribe the following drugs so as to reduce acid production in your body.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
These are drugs that reduces production of acid in the stomach and promotes the healing of stomach ulcer. The commonly used PPLs include omeprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole and lansoprazole they are very effective in treating ulcers. These drugs have side effects such as dizziness, abdominal cramps, constipation and headache. The symptoms are usually made and they go away after treatment is completed.
These medications reduces the amount of acids that are produced by stomach. When the stomach acid is minimal then more mucus layers will be formed and this will promote the healing of the stomach ulcer. Examples of commonly used H2 blockers for stomach also include nizadine, ranitidine, famotidine and cimetidine.
In chronic gastric ulcer cases that involve bleedings and perforations surgery might be the ultimate remedies to this complications.
Prevention of stomach ulcer
- Avoid smoking and use of tobacco
- Avoid excessive intake of alcohol or do not take at all
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands often to protect yourself from infectious bacteria
- If you have any symptoms of ulcer inform your doctor
- Avoid solid dependence or long-term use of painkillers
- Maintain a healthy diet that does not irritate the stomach
- Avoid stress
- Avoid injecting illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Stomach ulcer diet
The following are foods to eat if you have gastric ulcer disease to promote the healing of the wounds in the stomach linings:
- Leafty vegetables such as spinach and lettuce
- Probiotics foods such as yogurts and kefir
These foods contain nutrients and antioxidants that promote the healing of the sores in the stomach linings and removal of harmful bacteria in the body.
What food should I avoid if I have stomach ulcer?
The food you should not consume if you are suffering from gastric ulcer include:
- Food that contains caffeine such as coffee, cola, sodas, black tea and chocolate products
- Food with high acid concentration such as lemon
- Spicy food
- Tobacco and their products