A stomach ulcer occurs when areas of the lining of the stomach or small intestine become eroded or worn away. Stomach ulcers can be very painful. They can also cause additional symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, and loss of appetite. Stomach ulcers can even lead to more serious medical conditions, including cancers of the stomach and digestive system. There are a number of known contributors to the development of stomach ulcers. These include poor diet, bacteria known as H. pylori (helicobacter pylori), use or overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), consuming products with caffeine or carbonation, smoking, and excessive alcohol use. But there is good news about stomach ulcers. They are largely preventable. In many instances, all it takes is a little behavior modification here and there to reduce your risk of developing a stomach ulcer. Here are some tips from gastroenterologists on how to prevent stomach ulcers.
About stomach ulcers
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 25 million Americans will suffer from an ulcer during their lifetime. Tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed each year with a stomach ulcer, and it’s reported that the incidence of stomach ulcers is only increasing. However, something many Americans do not know about stomach ulcers is that the major cause is bacteria known as H. pylori (helicobacter pylori). In fact, in 2005 the Nobel Prize was won by pathologist John Robin Warren and physician Barry James Marshall for their discovery of H. pylori’s role in the development of ulcers.
Preventing stomach ulcers
Stomach ulcers can be prevented, especially if they are caused by factors other than bacteria. Because, however, H. pylori is a major contributor of stomach ulcers, the medical community is still working tirelessly to discover all the means of H. pylori’s entrance into the stomach. It is known, however, that H. pylori can be found in water, food, and even on eating and cooking utensils and dishes. H. pylori is found more often in developing countries and in communities where clean water is lacking. H. pylori is also found more often in areas where good sewage systems are needed. It is known that many people get H. pylori during their childhood years. These bacteria can live within the body for many years before a patient develops any symptoms of a stomach ulcer. However, doctors don’t know why H. pylori will lead to stomach ulcers in some people who have it and not others.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are another major contributing factor to the development of stomach ulcers. NSAIDs can be OTC (over-the-counter), drugs that are purchased at a drug store, grocery store, etc., or they can be prescribed by a healthcare professional. NSAIDs are a category of medication that includes drugs that relieve symptoms such as pain or cold or flu symptoms. Among the most common culprits of NSAID use leading to stomach ulcers include:
- Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Nabumetone (Relafen)
- Ketoprofen (Orudis)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren)
Use and especially overuse of NSAIDs can lead to stomach ulcers, which is why it is vital for those who use these medications to talk to their doctors about how to limit their use. Additionally, taking NSAIDs on an empty stomach can further irritate an ulcer or developing ulcer. For this reason, it is recommended that NSAIDs be taken with food intake.
Though poor diet, excessive caffeine intake, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake are not considered to play as big a role in the development of stomach ulcers as H. pylori and NSAID use, it is recommended that these lifestyle choices be curbed or stopped altogether, especially for those who already have stomach ulcers.
A stomach ulcer can be a serious impediment to a person’s lifestyle. Stomach ulcers cause pain and other symptoms that can take a toll on your life. They can stop you from eating the foods you enjoy, even in moderation. They can cause pain and other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. And these symptoms can limit or stop you from enjoying your life and even from performing daily activities of living. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, such as recurring stomach pain, bloating, nausea, loss of appetite, and/or vomiting, contact a top gastroenterologist in your area of Queens to schedule a consultation. It’s important not to put off being diagnosed and, if necessary, properly treated.