Stomach ulcers can really hurt, sometimes for hours and hours. But even if it’s just an intense pain that lasts for a few minutes, it can impact your quality of life in a big way.
Is there anything you can do?
Stomach ulcers happen when digestive acids damage your stomach lining. These ulcers are painful sores on the stomach lining that occurs when the thick layer of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive juices is reduced. The reduction allows digestive acids to eat away at the tissue that protects your stomach.
These ulcers are almost always caused by one of the following:
• An infection by the Heliobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
• Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin. ibuprofen, or naproxen
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning sensation or pain in the middle of the abdomen between the chest and belly button. The pain is generally more intense when your stomach is empty.
Several other symptoms can accompany a stomach ulcer, and their severity is typically relative to the severity of the ulcer. A few other symptoms can include dull pain in the stomach, nausea, bloating, feeling easily full, heartburn, fatigue, and dark, tarry stool.
Diet cannot cure or cause ulcers, as many may believe. That said, a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and probiotic-rich foods can benefit the intestinal tract and overall health.
Instead, treatment for ulcers caused by H. pylori usually comprises antibiotics and drugs called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs. PPIs block stomach cells that produce acid. Doctors may also recombine probiotics to help kill off the H. pylori bacteria.
It may also be possible to prevent stomach ulcers. Some steps to take are to make sure you regularly wash your hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of ulcer-causing bacteria. Properly clean and cook all food as needed.
Limiting NSAID use may also help prevent a stomach ulcer. If you need to take them, follow the usage guidelines on the bottle and avoid alcohol while taking them. Also, make sure you’re always taking them with food and water.