Ulcers that develop in stomach lining or lining of the lower oesophagus and small intestines are known as peptic ulcers. Inflammation caused by bacteria and erosion from stomach acids can cause peptic ulcers. Gastric, oesophageal and duodenal are the three kids of peptic ulcers. While gastric ulcers are the ones that develop inside the stomach lining oesophageal are ulcers which develop inside the oesophagus and duodenal ulcers develop in duodenum, the upper section of small intestines. Different factors can contribute to breakdown of stomach lining, oesophagus and small intestines. They include H. pylori – infection and inflammation causing bacteria in the stomach, frequent intake of aspirins and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, excess intake of alcohol, smoking, radiation therapy and stomach cancer.
Symptoms of peptic ulcers
One of the most common symptoms of peptic ulcer includes burning pain in the abdomen. This pain can range from mild to severe, and can extend from the navel to the chest. Peptic ulcer may cause pain which can wake you up at night. They may also cause a nausea, change in appetite, bloody or dark stools, sudden and unexpected weight loss, indigestion and chest pain.
Treatment for peptic ulcers
There are 2 tests which need to be done for treatment of peptic ulcers, namely upper endoscopy and upper gastrointestinal series. As part of upper endoscopy, a long tube with camera is inserted in your stomach and small intestine through your throat. This is done in order to examine the area of ulcers. This instrument allows doctor to remove tissue samples for examination. However, all cases of peptic ulcers do not require any upper endoscopy. It is mostly suggested to people who are higher risk of stomach cancer – which includes people above the age of 45, people who experience anaemia, weight loss, gastrointestinal bleeding and difficulty in swallowing.
Upper gastrointestinal series
Upper GI tests are suggested for people who do not experience difficulty in swallowing and are at lower risk of stomach cancer. A thick liquid called barium swallow is given to the patient. After this, an X-ray of stomach, small intestine and oesophagus is done. This liquid enables the doctor to view and treat the ulcer.
The overall treatment will depend on the causative factor of the ulcer. Peptic ulcers caused by H. pylori infection can be treated with medication. Antibiotics used for treatment of peptic ulcers can have some side effects and cause an upset stomach or diarrhoea.
Complications of peptic ulcers
1. Internal bleeding
Bleeding ulcers can cause extreme blood lost and may require the patient to get hospitalised. Bleeding ulcers can cause dizziness, black stools and light-headedness.
Perforation is a condition in which a hole develops in the lining of the stomach or small intestine and causes infection. It can cause severe and sudden abdominal pain.
3. Scar tissue
Scar tissues are the thick tissues which develop after an injury. Scar tissues can make it difficult for the food to pass through digestive tract. Scar tissues can cause weight loss and vomiting.
Home remedies for peptic ulcers
A condition like peptic ulcers can be prevented by bringing a few changes in lifestyle and eating habits. People should avoid drinking 2 or more alcoholic beverages in a day. You must also avoid mixing medication with alcohol and wash your hands frequently to avoid infections. Frequent intake of aspirins and pain killers must be avoided in order to prevent peptic ulcers. Use of cigarettes and tobacco use must be entirely avoided in order to prevent peptic ulcers. Eat a balanced and healthy diet which is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains in order to prevent peptic ulcers.
Furthermore, intake of caffeinated drinks and beverages, carbonated beverages, chilli and hot peppers, high-salt diet, deep fried foods and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes must be consumed in minimal quantities in order to prevent peptic ulcers.
Extract of cranberries can help in fighting H. pylori bacteria. Drinking cranberry juice or eating cranberries can help in keeping peptic ulcers at bay.
With its powerful antioxidant properties, honey can help in inhibiting growth of H. pylori bacteria. It can help in soothing ulcers and preventing peptic ulcers.
Probiotics can help in maintaining balance of bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods like buttermilk, yogurt, kimchi and kefir are good instances of probiotic foods.
Garlic too has properties which can inhibit growth of H. pylori bacteria. Garlic can help in preventing numerous diseases along with imparting an interesting flavour to the dish.
4. Foods rich in flavonoids
Foods rich in flavonoids can help the body fight against H. pylori bacteria. Legumes, red grapes, broccoli, kale, soy beans, apples, berries and tea are examples of foods rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are often referred to as gastro-protective and help in defending lining of the stomach. They also allow ulcers to heal.