Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers or peptic ulcers, are sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. Stomach ulcers occur when the thick layer of protective mucus that protects the stomach digestive juices is reduced, and this allows the digestive acids to gradually eat up the tissues that line the stomach, thereby causing stomach ulcer.
Some people think their stomach ulcer was caused by fasting, when in the contrary, it was either caused by Helicobacter Pylori (a bacterium) gotten from untreated water or food, or from abusing drugs like Ibuprofen in the class of NSAIDS that caused theirs.
Many people don’t know this, your stomach secretes an acid known as gastric acid with a pH of less than 3.5 that is enough to burn through your skin. So, the question is why doesn’t this burn your stomach? This is because your stomach is protected by a sheet of mucus-like substance that protects it from being destroyed by this acid.
When you get infected with H Pylori, it can survive the harsh environment of the stomach by neutralizing the acid around it. It is able to colonise the stomach, sometimes for years, this can lead to inflammation and create a chance for acid to reach the stomach wall. This H Pylori can be gotten from contaminated water, utensils and even from the saliva of infected persons, so you have to be careful who you kiss.
Many people get this during childhood, but adults can get it too. It can also live in the body for years before people start to get symptoms.
Other causes of ulcers are drugs, some drugs can cause the breakdown of this protective lining, for instance drugs like Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Felvin, etc, abuse of those drugs can lead to what you know as ulcer. Some antibiotics can also lead to this condition.
Alcohol also irritates the lining of the stomach but there is little evidence that it may directly lead to ulcers, same for caffeine and smoking. Talking about smoking, if you already have an H Pylori infection, smoking can increase the chances of you getting ulcer, because smoking is harmful to the lining of the stomach
Severe stress can also cause ulcer, not traffic stress, or just some minor stress. But having burns, severe illness, brain trauma or injury.
However, these things are risk factors, things that make it easier for you to get an ulcer, other causes are genetics.
Some uncommon causes are conditions where people secrete a lot of stomach acid. Some of them are when the cells of the stomach are enlarged and hence secrete more acid than the lining can handle.
In simplest of terms, an ulcer is just a wound on the inside of the stomach. To treat it, you would need to remove what is causing the wound and reduce the acid in the stomach, so it can heal. Now you might want to know that stomach ulcers might take a while to heal.
If the cause is an infection, your doctor will treat that infection with antibiotics and medicines that reduce the acid and protect your stomach.
There will be tests that will be done to confirm that you have an infection, also questions and examinations will be taken to determine the exact cause of your ulcer.
What to do if you have Stomach UlcerIf you have a stomach ulcer, you should :
- Avoid fizzy drinks, such as carbonated drinks
- Limit spicy peppery meals
- Do not fast for long hours
- Do not smoke
- Manage stress
- Limit caffeine
- Avoid drugs known as NSAIDs
- Inform your doctor also.