An ulcer is a sore or crater in the lining of the stomach (gastric ulcer) or in the small intestine (duodenal ulcer). Ulcers develop when something damages the protective lining and allows stomach acid to eat away at it.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF ULCERS
- Anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirins are damaging to the lining of the stomach. Always take these products with food and only take the recommended dosage.
- Smoking contributes to ulcers, and ulcers in smokers are less likely to heal.
- Use moderation with anything you consume, alcohol and spicy foods included.
- More than 10 percent of all men develop ulcers. They occur most frequently in young and middle-aged adults. Some people tend to have an inherited disposition to getting ulcers. Although the evidence that stress causes ulcers is unclear, stress can aggravate an existing ulcer. Recent evidence indicates a bacterial infection caused by the H. Pylori bacteria can also lead to ulcer development.
- burning, aching, gnawing or discomfort with hunger in the upper abdomen or lower chest that is relieved by milk, food or antacids
- bloated feeling after meals
- nausea and vomiting
- pain under the breastbone that comes and goes
- Emergency Symptoms
- shock (cold, clammy skin and fainting)
- vomiting fresh blood
- black, tarry stools
- severe abdominal pain
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE AN ULCER
- See your doctor.
- Use antacids to neutralize stomach acid and allow the ulcer to heal. Your doctor can recommend the best dosage for you. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, be aware that many antacids are high in sodium.
- Avoid foods that bring on symptoms. Milk products slow healing and should be avoided.
- Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol since they may worsen symptoms.
- If you smoke, quit now.
- Avoid using ibuprofen and aspirin; substitute acetaminophen.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Surgery may be necessary if:
- - the ulcer is bleeding.
- - the ulcer is causing an obstruction or perforation.
- AFTER SURGERY, ULCERS RECUR IN ABOUT FIVE PERCENT OF PATIENTS.
- If the ulcer is a result of the H. Pylori bacteria, antibiotics will be used to treat the ulcer.