Characteristics of Stomach Ulcer

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Stomach ulcer occurs when lesions develop on the stomach’s mucus membrane lining. The stomach has a shield of mucous to protect itself from gastric juices, the substance that digests and processes the food we eat. Also known as peptic ulcer, stomach ulcer develops when the protective shield of your gut starts to thin out, eventually breaking to expose the soft, sensitive tissues of the stomach underneath.

When the exposed tissues make contact with the caustic stomach acids, it will cause shooting pain in the stomach. Sores will start to form and enlarge. When not treated right away, the sores will become progressively worse.

While stomach ulcer is often caused by broken mucous lining, there are cases wherein the condition is caused by a malignant tumor. In very extreme cases of stomach ulcer, it’s best to have yourself checked and biopsies performed to exclude cancer.

Stomach ulcers usually affect people over the age of 50, with men being prone to ulcer more than women. However, a combination of poor eating habits and stress may also cause stomach ulcer in people aged 25 to 35. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, more than 4 million people suffer from stomach ulcer and one in 10 people will develop this condition in their lifetime.

Symptoms of Ulcer

Main symptoms of ulcer include indigestion, heartburn, rapid weight loss, nausea, and stomach pain after eating. People afflicted with stomach ulcer suffer from a burning or dull pain in the abdomen so bad, they don’t want to eat because of it. In most cases, people having ulcer flare-ups won’t drink or eat knowing that this will worsen the pain. Taking antacids are helpful in relieving pain but again, there are cases when even such medications make the pain worse.

Causes of Stomach Ulcer

Bacterial Infection

Stomach ulcer may be caused by an overgrowth of a gut bacterium called “helicobacter pylori.” When this bacterium proliferates in the digestive system, it causes infections to the stomach — resulting in painful lesions.

Poor Diet

Eating greasy, overly fatty, or spicy foods could also lead to ulcer or trigger pain from having stomach ulcer. If you have stomach ulcer, avoid fast food and spicy food and stick to light meals instead. Do not skip meals to minimize the contact between caustic liquids from your stomach and your exposed gut tissues.

Stress

Clinical researches conclude that stress triggers the stomach to produce more gastric juices. Combined with poor diet or skipping meals, long-term effects of stress include various digestive problems, including stomach ulcer. So don’t ignore hunger pangs even when you’ve got deadlines to beat. Eat small, healthy meals to prevent stomach ulcers or avoid flare-ups.

Steroids

Asthmatic people are more vulnerable to developing stomach ulcers than others because steroids that are mixed into asthma medication could cause stomach ulcer. Even common pain relievers like ibuprofen or cortisone may lead to the development of stomach ulcer over time.

Coffee and Citrus Fruits and Juices

Certain types of fruits could cause stomach ulcer. Citrus fruits contain acids that may worsen stomach pain caused by ulcer. Coffee is said to stimulate gastric juice production in the stomach and this too, can lead to stomach pains caused by peptic ulcer.

Genetics

Some people are genetically predisposed to develop stomach ulcer over time. If your family has a history of peptic ulcer, there’s a good chance that you’d be afflicted with the same condition over time.


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