Ulcers are not limited to the stomach; in fact they can occur anywhere from the digestive tract, to the legs and feet. While stress is a common factor with ulcers, there are other risks to consider.
Ulcers are a wound or open sore that is difficult to heal or is reoccurring. Ulcers can be painful when aggravated. While they can go away on their own, the key is to treat them properly to aid in proper healing.
Three types of ulcers
1. Peptic ulcer
Because ulcers can affect different parts of the body there can be different types. Ulcers that affect the digestive tract are called peptic ulcers. Types of peptic ulcers include gastric ulcers (stomach), esophageal ulcers (esophagus), and duodenal ulcers (upper portion of small intestine).
When acid from the stomach burns through the inner surface of the digestive tract that can lead to an ulcer. Mucus is found along the digestive tract to protect it from acid. If there is too much the mucus erodes and that can lead to an ulcer.
Common causes of ulcers can be a result from a bacterium, regular use of pain medications or other medications such as the type to treat osteoporosis.
Symptoms of peptic ulcers
- Pain, which can be felt from the belly button up to the chest
- Vomiting of blood
- Dark or black stools
- Changes in appetite
- Unexplained weight loss.
Although typically medications can be prescribed to reduce the discomfort associated with ulcers, lifestyle changes can help, too. People with peptic ulcers should avoid smoking, minimize stress, limit or avoid alcohol, and eat healthy meals. Vitamins and minerals found in healthy foods can help improve a peptic ulcer.
2. Leg and foot ulcers
There are three types of leg and foot ulcers.
Venous stasis ulcers
Venous ulcers occur below the knee primarily in the inner part of the leg. This type of ulcer is common in individuals who have experienced previous swelling of the leg, have varicose veins or a history of blood clots.
Neurotrophic ulcers mainly occur in diabetics and appear on the bottom of the foot. They can also be caused by foot trauma.
Arterial (ischemic ulcer).
Arterial ulcers occur on the feet and can be caused in patients with poor circulation.
Legs ulcers in general can be caused by medical conditions such as poor circulation, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, being a smoker and infections to name a few.
Depending on the cause, leg ulcers can be treated in a variety of ways. Antibiotics, compression garments, anti-clotting medications and topical creams are just some treatment methods for leg ulcers.
3. Colon ulcers
Colon ulcers, or ulcerative colitis, is the inflammation of the colon and is an irritable bowel disease. Tiny ulcers develop in the lining of the colon and can spread upward into the large intestine. Bowel movements become affected by either expelling rapidly or infrequently.
There is no exact cause of colon ulcers as of yet, but researchers are examining possible connections to the immune system and heredity.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody stools
- Weight loss
- Increase in abdominal sounds.
Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong condition that has to be managed. Surgery may be conducted to remove the colon if the ulcers are severe. Additionally, medication may be used like an anti-inflammatory to relieve cramping and abdominal pain.
Tips to deal with ulcerative colitis include staying hydrated, avoiding trigger foods which may lead to discomfort, eating smaller meals more frequently, and possibly taking a multivitamin if malnutrition is an issue.
These are just three areas where ulcers can occur. If you are at risk for an ulcer practicing healthy lifestyle preventative habits can ensure one does not develop.
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