An ulcer is a sore that usually forms in the stomach, esophagus or intestines.
Most ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, but acids in the stomach can contribute to them, making ulcers more painful.
A relatively easy diagnosis and treatment doesn’t mean you should discount the severity of an aching abdomen or other persistent symptoms. When ulcers go untreated, they can become a serious health issue.
MANAGING STOMACH ULCERS
Get to know your risk factors.
Taking certain other meds, in addition to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be cause for concern. Steroids, anticoagulants and a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can up your risk of developing a stomach ulcer.
Consult your doctor about your medications.
If you’re taking NSAIDs regularly, you may want to explore drug-free ways of controlling chronic headaches, for example. Or, if the medication is a must (like daily Aspirin to manage a heart condition) you may require a long-term low-dose PPI to counteract the effects and prevent future ulcers.
Embrace the power of probiotics .
Boosting the body’s supply of healthy bacteria may help to fight off H. pylori and treat (or prevent) stomach ulcers. Pop a daily probiotic supplement like yogurt and kombucha. Add more foods to your diet that are known to nourish gut flora, including apples, leafy greens, blueberries and olive oil.
Do load up on ulcer-healing foods.
Start by switching to honey. Not only does it contain polyphenols and other antioxidants, but honey is also an antibacterial that has been shown to inhibit the growth of H. pylori. A drizzle can sweeten your tea, top a piece of toast and possibly soothe your ulcer, too. Some studies show that cranberry, garlic and polyphenol-rich foods including flaxseed and black olives may also help to fight the bacteria and help your body heal an ulcer. Broccoli also has an ulcer-fighting superpower hence reduces stomach infection and inflammation.
Make a list of foods to avoid while treating your ulcer.
Certain spices, including black pepper, chili pepper and mustard seed may worsen symptoms. So can coffee, black tea and chocolate, since the caffeine they contain stimulates acid production, which can irritate your ulcer. Switching to five or six big snacks throughout the day, as opposed to a big breakfast, lunch and dinner, can also reduce the effects of stomach acid and boost healing.
Find ways to deal with stress.
Although lifestyle factors including stress, diet and poor sleep are not likely to cause an ulcer, they can definitely contribute to tummy troubles by aggravating symptoms. Meditation, journaling, yoga and other forms of exercise are all proven ways to minimize and manage stress.
Monitor your symptoms.
If you experience red or black vomit or stools or have intense pain in the abdomen, call your doctor or go to the hospital right away. As many as three quarters of people don’t exhibit the usual symptoms like burning pain or indigestion, and the ulcer doesn’t make itself known until it’s at a more serious stage. A bleeding ulcer can often be repaired by cauterizing or clipping the area via endoscopy. Emergency surgery is typically only required if you have multiple ulcers, they’re in spots that are difficult to reach with an endoscope, or they have progressed to a point where they perforate the stomach or cause a blockage. Untreated, an ulcer can also bleed to a point that is life-threatening.
FACT:The mortality rate is 10 percent, so it’s still a serious disease.
BY Dr. Muwanguzi Shadrac
@health torch Uganda
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