Do you know what an ulcer is? It's more than just heartache — it’s severe sores or lesions that can form in the lining of your digestive tract. Ulcers can cause significant discomfort, making everyday activities like eating and drinking difficult to do. However, there are steps that you can take to prevent them from forming.
How do you know you have an ulcer?
As Ulcers form in the lining of the stomach, they often cause a range of symptoms. Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen is one of them - it's usually more prominent after eating and can last for several hours. Furthermore, ulcers may cause nausea, bloating, gas, and heartburn.
Keep in mind that symptoms may vary from person to person; some individuals don't experience any discomfort at all. All in all, ulcer pain is usually the first sign that something is wrong with your body's digestion process. If you think you have an ulcer and are experiencing abnormal pain or other issues related to digestion, it's best to seek medical advice.
How do they form?
Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are painful sores that form in the lining of the stomach. They can range from shallow and barely noticeable to deep and incredibly uncomfortable. While ulcers may be uncomfortable for those experiencing them, we can thank biology for how they form: digestion.
The process of digestion requires strong acids that slowly wear away at the stomach's protective barrier. When this barrier becomes too thin or is corroded completely, ulcer forms as a sign of distress. The cause of ulcers isn't limited simply to acid - they can appear due to infection or other medical conditions as well. Fortunately, ulcers are treatable with proper attention and care, such as diet and lifestyle changes or prescription medications when necessary.
What are the symptoms of ulcers?
Ulcers are generally caused by an imbalance in the normal acidity levels in the digestive system. Common signs and symptoms of ulcers include burning pain in the upper part of the stomach area, stomach upset or tenderness to touch, indigestion after meals, or a feeling of fullness during and after eating.
Interestingly enough, ulcer symptoms can vary based on what time of day they occur - night-time ulcer pain is often worse than those experienced during the day. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms that seem to worsen after consuming food and beverage, it is recommended that you consult with a doctor to check for ulcers.
How are ulcers treated?
Ulcer treatments aim to reduce the symptoms that ulcers can cause while working towards resolving them. The most effective ulcer treatments involve taking medications that reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach over an extended period of time. In some cases, medications have been found to work exceptionally well for ulcers caused by ulcerative colitis or Helicobacter Pylori infection.
For ulcers that have become so severe that they have not responded to other ulcer treatments, surgery may be recommended to remove them permanently. Surgery is also reserved for ulcers accompanied by complications like bleeding or perforation of the lining, which cannot be resolved with medication alone. Regardless of how ulcers are treated, understanding their causes and taking measures to prevent their formation is paramount for achieving long-term health benefits.
Surgery could be recommended in more severe circumstances, or the patient has not responded to existent treatments. During surgery, the ulcer is removed from the stomach or intestine walls and closed with sutures to reduce further irritation.
Surgery should only be a last resort, however, can be helpful in removing ulcers that result from structural damage within the stomach wall.
Can you avoid ulcers?
Stomach ulcers can be caused by several factors, such as certain medications, smoking or alcohol use, or an infection of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Fortunately, ulcers can usually be treated and avoided by making certain lifestyle changes. Eating smaller meals more frequently and avoiding foods known to irritate ulcers can help maintain proper digestion and soothe ulcer pain.
Additionally, doctors suggest limiting alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, as well as over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. Other remedies for ulcer prevention include getting regular exercise, practicing stress-relieving methods like yoga or meditation, and taking antacids if heartburn is a frequent problem. Ultimately ulcers are unpleasant but preventable if diligent care is taken of your body's digestive system.
We encourage you to contact us and set up an appointment to help diagnose and help you find the best treatment plan for managing your gut health.