Stomach ulcers are open sores that form on the internal lining of the stomach. These can be broadly categorized to gastric and duodenal ulcers. The ulcers that occur on the inner lining of stomach are called gastric ulcers whereas the ulcers that appear on the upper region of the small intestine are called duodenal ulcers. Both gastric and duodenal ulcers, together are known as Peptic Ulcers.
Symptoms of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease
Appearance of symptoms of stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease may or may not occur. The symptoms when show up usually includes:
- Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease symptoms include a continuous distress with a burning sensation in the middle or upper part of the stomach following meals or during night.
- Nausea with vomiting.
- Dark or black colored stool as a result of bleeding
- Blood Vomits.
- Loss of Weight
- Feeling Bloated
- Heartburning sensation can also be a symptom of stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease.
Epidemiology of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer
As per the research in the United States, there exist over 4 million individuals suffering from active peptic ulcers and every year over 300,000 new cases are identified. The prevalence of duodenal ulcers is common compared to the gastric ulcers. The death toll due to the condition is around 3000 for both duodenal ulcer as well as the gastric ulcer.
Prognosis of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease
Stomach ulcer or Peptic ulcer disease when left untreated can come up again. The individual suffering from Stomach ulcer or Peptic ulcer disease is initially diagnosed for the H. pylori infection which can be treated with suitable medication and treatments. The Stomach ulcer or Peptic ulcer disease do not surface again if proper treatment is administered.
Causes of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease
There exist multiple causes for stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease. Some of them include:
- Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease Caused Due to Pain Killers: Regular consumption of painkillers, which are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen, whether safety-coated or not are powerful causative agents for peptic ulcers.
- Acidity: Excess of acid production in the stomach due to gastrinomas, tumors and certain medical conditions like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, can cause stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease.
- Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease Caused Due to Alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol can also lead to peptic ulcer disease.
- Nicotine Consumption: Intake of nicotine via smoking or chewing tobacco can also cause stomach ulcers.
- Other Causes of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease Caused Due to: It includes factors like serious illness and ailments, also radiation treatment to the affected area.
Diagnosis of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease
Diagnostic techniques utilized to identify the stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer diseases are:
- C14 breath test: This test is done to check for the presence of H. pylori infection in which the carbon dioxide is converted to urea by the bacteria. The test comprises of absorption of a given amount of radioactive carbon (C14) via oral intake and examining the air which is exhaled from the lungs. In case of children and pregnant women the test can be conducted with non-radioactive substances.
- Endoscopy to Diagnose Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer: This technique requires insertion of a thin flexible tube down to the stomach via esophagus under the effect of mild anesthesia. The tube contains a small camera which provides a clear image of the condition of ulcers in the stomach.
- Biopsy: A small amount of tissue sample is obtained after conducting the endoscopy and this sample is tested for stomach ulcer or peptic ulcers.
- Barium Meal: This method is rather uncommon, which involves consumption of chalky liquid containing barium followed by an x-ray. The x-ray then provides a clear image of the stomach lining to assess the presence of ulcers.
Treatment of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease
Treatment of stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease can be surgical as well as non-surgical; the treatment to be opted depends on the cause behind the ulcer. In most cases, the prescription medication proves to be sufficient to treat stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease but rare cases can require surgery as well.
- Nonsurgical Treatments for Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer: These measures are taken up when the stomach ulcer is due to the infection from H. pylori. Consuming antibiotics helps but the type of medication depends on the type of ulcer varying from mild to moderate stomach ulcers. These medications include:
- H2 blockers: These prevent the production of excess acid in the stomach.
Proton Pump Inhibitors: It inhibits the cells involved in production of acid.
- Antacids: It helps in neutralizing the acid in stomach. These are non-prescription drugs.
- Cytoprotective Agents: Medicines like Pepto-Bismol help in protection of the internal lining of the stomach and small intestine to prevent stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease.
- H2 blockers: These prevent the production of excess acid in the stomach.
- Surgical Treatments for Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease: Surgical measures are opted in rare cases when the stomach ulcer continue to reoccur, bleed, un-healed, prevent food from moving from stomach to intestine or rip the stomach or the small intestine. Surgical procedures to treat for stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease include:
- Complete removal of the ulcer.
- Covering the ulcer site with the tissues obtained from another part of the intestines and sewing them.
- Fastening the bleeding artery.
- In order to reduce the acid production in stomach, the nerve supply to the stomach is cut off which is responsible for the production of stomach acid.
Home Remedies for Stomach Ulcers or Peptic Ulcer Disease
The home remedies include consumption of foods pertaining to prevention of stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease. These foods are:
- Cabbage: Cabbage is a lactic acid food that aids the production of amino acid which stimulates the blood flow to the stomach lining thereby strengthening the stomach lining and healing the ulcer, making it an effective home remedy for stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease.
- Bananas as a Home Remedy for Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease: Antibacterial properties of banana help in checking the growth of H. pylori infection and preventing ulcer disease.
- Cayenne Pepper: This is a useful home remedy for Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease. The capsaicin enzyme present in the cayenne pepper obstructs the secretion of stomach acids, helps in increasing the production of alkali, encourages mucus secretions, thus averting and curing ulcers.
- Coconut: Coconut constitutes antibacterial and anti-ulcer properties suitable for ulcer patients.
- Fenugreek: Fenugreek is known to enhance mucus production thereby protecting the stomach lining and preventing ulcers.
- Honey: Honey is well known home remedy for many ailments and is also an effective home remedy to treat stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease. Raw honey contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase which aids the production of hydrogen peroxide, which in turn terminates the harmful bacterial growth on the stomach lining. It also helps in soothing and reducing the ulcers.
- Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease Home Remedy Using Garlic: Garlic has antimicrobial properties which checks on the growth of bacteria on the stomach lining and preventing further ulcers.
Prevention of Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease
In order to check the spread of infection and cut the risk of bacterial growth, some measures can be followed which prevents the risk of ulcers to a large extent. These include:
- Washing of hands with soap regularly
- Food should be cleaned and cooked carefully
- Limiting the use of NSAIDs. In case the intake is required, the dosage should be taken as recommended.
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
- Escaping chewing of tobacco products
- Opting of a non-smoker lifestyle
- Lifestyle modifications and stress management therapies.
When to Seek Help for Stomach Ulcer or Peptic Ulcer Disease?
When any of the below symptoms appear, then medical help should be taken up as soon as possible.
- Presence of abrupt, sharp and intolerable pain in the abdominal region.
- Abdominal region which is firm, hard and inflexible, on contact appears to be tender.
- Fainting or Dizziness of patient
- Occurrence of excessive sweating
- Predominance of perplexity or confusion
- Vomiting accompanied by blood
- Color of the stool becomes maroon or dark black due to presence of blood, which indicates internal bleeding.
Stomach Ulcer or Peptic ulcer diseases are the wounds that occur on the inner line of stomach or intestine. Most cases are caused due to the presence of infection from H. pylori bacteria and constant consumption of NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen. Other factors responsible are excess of alcohol consumption and consuming nicotine rich products like cigarettes and tobacco. The usual symptoms are the tenderness in the abdominal region. Peptic ulcers can be treated successfully with proper medical help. A lifestyle modification including diet, quitting smoking and drinking has to be incorporated for living a healthy life. One must not delay in seeking help as that could bring in serious complications and irreversible damages.