Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach or upper part of the small intestines and occurs when the protective mucus lining the stomach becomes damaged.
Duodenal or Gastric ulcers also known as Peptic ulcers if left untreated or properly managed can develop into a more serious problem causing bleeding, perforation by breaking down the lining of the stomach wall, infection and inflammation of the abdominal cavity or blockage of the stomach or the duodenum.
Peptic ulcers are caused primarily by:
- Prolonged use of pain reliever also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and at high doses such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and aspirin usually purchased over the counter. They can cause irritation on the lining of the stomach and small intestine.
- Bacterias are known as H. pylori. They live in the mucous layer that protects the stomach and small intestine. They can cause ulcers by causing inflammation of the stomach layers thereby allowing acids to get through the lining thereby causing ulcers. They can be contacted through food and water.
- Excess stomach acidity caused by certain food, stress or even smoking.
- A rare disease that causes excess stomach acid scientifically known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers
- Indigestion (pain or discomfort in the stomach). This also can be described as dull or a burning stomach pain this should not be confused with heartburn that occurs mostly in the upper part of the stomach and caused by acid reflux. The pain is dull and or burning and can sometimes be described as biting or a feeling of hungry sensation.
- Blood in stool and black coloured stool.
- Feeling full or bloating, vomiting and nausea.
- Shortness of breath.
- Vomiting blood.
- Feeling faint and or loss of consciousness.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Change in appetite.
- NSAIDs (NON-STEROIDAL ANTI INFLAMMATORY DRUGS)
- Medication including prescription drugs selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for managing depression, alendronate for managing osteoporosis, anticoagulants such as warfarin or even anti-platelets otherwise called blood thinners can also increase chances of developing peptic ulcers.
- Some cancer drugs.
- Excessive alcohol use. Alcohol can erode the mucous lining of the stomach and increases the amount of acid produced. This can also make symptoms of ulcers worse.
- Stress can also put you at an increased risk of peptic ulcers.
Healthy Tips to Prevent & Manage Peptic Ulcers
- Wash hands with soap and water before and after eating and preparation of food to prevent spread and contamination with the H.pylori bacteria.
- If you must take NSAIDs, speak to a pharmacist and they can recommend certain over the counter medication otherwise known as proton pump inhibitors, antacids to be taken with NSAIDs to protect the lining of your stomach. Also recommended that you take NSAIDs with meals.
- Quit smoking as this can slow down the healing process.
- Speak to a doctor about persistent indigestion and experience with any of the symptoms described above.
- Engage in physical activity such as exercise to help with a healthy immune system.
- See a doctor if you feel faint or weak, blood in stools or black stools, and if you have sudden sharp stomach pain that won’t go away.
- Manage stress.
- Make a note of foods to avoid if you have peptic ulcers. However, studies have not confirmed that specific foods cause ulcers.
- Mayo Clinic website
- NIDDK website
**This publication is solely for health awareness purposes. Always seek your doctor’s advice on your medical ailment as this publication does not replace any care plan already in place by your healthcare professionals**