Peptic Ulcers are single or multiple open sores affecting the mucous membranes of stomach lining and/or the lining of the intestines. Ulcers are usually caused then the digestive lining becomes thinner and less able to withstand the effects of the digestive juices.
Ulcers can be differentiated by name and by the time symptoms appear. In many people, they remain asymptomatic, and may heal without scarring. Only once the ulcer(s) become chronic, and therefore “true” symptoms will be experienced.
Gastric Ulcer is a type of ulcer that occurs in the stomach, and is caused by the ulceration, inflammation and destruction of the stomach lining. Gastric ulcers are less common than other types
Duodenal ulcers occur in the duodenum, which is the first part of the digestive tract after the stomach. They occur 3-5 times more frequently than gastric ulcers and are 4 times more common in men than in women.
With a gastric ulcer, pain is experienced as a “dull, gnawing”, which typically occurs 2-3 hours after a meal or when the stomach is empty (such as in the middle of the night). The pain may be intermittent for days or weeks.
The primary symptom of duodenal ulcers is abdominal discomfort that is experienced 45-60 minutes after a meal or during the night.
Other symptoms may include
- General discomfort in the abdomen
- Bloating or fullness after eating
- Feeling sick
You should see your doctor immediately if you have
- Sharp, persistent stomach pain
- Bloody or black stools
- Vomiting blood or substances that look like coffee grounds
As this may indicate that the ulcer has perforated, which requires immediate medical treatment
Helicobacter Pylori Infection – Up to 80% of peptic ulcers are associated with infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria make a home in the upper parts of the digestive system by attach to the mucosal lining. Once in residence release a substance called urease that damages the intestinal lining allowing digestive juices to corrode the intestinal wall, forming an ulcer. If you have a stomach ulcer you might like to consider A Helicobacter Pylori Test since many stomach ulcer cases resolve once this bacterium has been identified and eradicated.
Imbalanced stomach acid – In some cases, ulcers are a result of excessive production of stomach acid. However, for many low stomach acid is a much more common part of the picture. Stomach acid plays a very important role in killing off the bugs we are exposed to in our food and environment. Since 80% or more cases of stomach ulcers are thought to be caused by the bacterial infection Helicobacter Pylori, having low stomach acid is a significant risk factor. In addition, people already suffering with an ulcer often have reduced stomach acid secretions as the body is trying to protect itself from further damage. This makes us even more vulnerable to infection and compromises digestion.
Regular use of painkillers – Some medicines, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause peptic ulcers. Examples of these medicines include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. If you regularly use these kinds of medication you could increase your chances of getting a stomach ulcer, so it advisable to try and address the underlying condition. This is something you could discuss with your doctor and with the help of Smart Nutrition.
Poor diet/lifestyle – Smoking and a diet high in fatty fried foods, sugar, coffee, alcohol, acidic and spicy foods can lead to over acidity. This can predispose you to a stomach ulcer or greatly exacerbate an existing condition. Why not Book A Consultation with Smart Nutrition as it is a great way to find out the best foods to eat, those to avoid and to learn how to put together ulcer friendly menus. We would also be able to suggests supplements that can help to sooth and help the intestinal lining, speeding the road to recovery.
Stress – A number of studies have linked stress to an increased risk of peptic ulcer. This is thought to be because stress interferes with stomach acid secretions and weakens our immune system, both of which can allow a Helicobacter Pylori infection to take hold. The effect of stress on increasing acidity is also known to exacerbate existing ulcers. If you have a stressful lifestyle and feel this may be a factor in your condition, An Adrenal Stress Test can help pinpoint precise imbalances that can then be targeted with the help of Smart Nutrition.