Ulcers are breaks or holes in the protective lining of the stomach or duodenum. Duodenal ulcers are more common than stomach ulcers. Comparatively rare, esophageal ulcers, which forms in the esophagus (swallowing tube) are often the result of alcohol abuse or exposure to medications like certain anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics.
While secretion of excess stomach acids plays a key role in the formation of ulcers, in a recent research, it has also been found that bacterial infection is another major cause of ulcers. There are medical evidence that Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria is present in more than 80% of stomach ulcers and 90% of duodenal ulcers.
TYPES OF ULCERS are:
These develop on the inside lining of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine or esophagus. They form when digestive juices damage the lining of the stomach or intestine. These are most often caused by inflammation after being infected by H.pylori and long-term use of painkillers. There are three types of peptic ulcers:
These are open sores that develop on the outer side of ankle, feet, toes and heels. They develop from damage to the blood vessels due to lack of blood flow to the tissue. Arterial ulcers appear as red, yellow or black with hairless skin and leg pain.
It is the most common type of leg ulcers and is often formed on the leg, below the knee, and on the inner area of the ankle. They are formed because of damaged veins which is caused by inadequate flow of blood back to the heart. A person may also have inflammation, swelling, itchy skin, scabbing and discharge.
These are small sores or lesions that develop in the mouth or at the base of gums. They are also known by the term canker sores. Mouth ulcers are triggered by biting the inside of the cheek, hard teeth brushing, food allergies, hormonal changes, vitamin deficiencies, bacterial infection and other serious illnesses.
These develop on the genitals including vagina, penis, anus or surrounding areas. Genital ulcers usually occur because of trauma, inflammatory diseases, sexually transmitted infections or allergic reactions to skincare products. They are accompanied by a rash, pain, itching, swollen glands in the groin and fever.
The early symptoms of ulcers may vary from one person to another. In general, the notable symptoms are as follows:
Causes of ulcers are as follows:
The patient is diagnosed using a urea breath test where a specific drink is given to patient which gets broken down by H.pylori bacteria and the breath is then analyzed to see if he/she has H.pylori infection.
A blood test is done to analyze whether it contains antibodies to H.pylori which is nowadays replaced by stool antigen test.
This is done to look inside the stomach directly and detect whether or not it contains an ulcer. The process involves passing an endoscope with a camera at one end into the mouth and the duodenum. A mild sedative may be given before the procedure and an anesthetic may be sprayed onto the throat to make the procedure more comfortable.
The images captured by the camera usually confirm or rule out the ulcer. However, sometimes a small tissue sample may also be needed to be taken and tested for the same. This is usually an outpatient procedure and the patient is usually sent home the same day.
Endoscopy is another procedure to diagnose ulcers. PPIs and H2 receptor antagonists are used to reduce acid levels until the swelling goes down. If an obstruction is caused by scar tissue, it may either need endoscopic balloon inflation.
Ulcers are easier to treat usually with antacids and antibiotics. There are also several other drugs that reduce the amount of acids produced by the stomach. A person suffering from ulcers should consult a physician. Ulcers if left untreated can lead to serious illnesses like anemia and stomach carcinoma.
Most of the ulcers are treated using various medications and in some cases, surgical procedure is required. Antibiotics may be used to eradicate H.pylori whereas anti-ulcer medications are used to inhibit the acid secretions and heal ulcers.
In cases of bleeding or perforated ulcers, Esophagogastroduodenoscopy may be performed and surgery is recommended. Your physician may advise to quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption and avoid overuse of NSAID's to prevent the development of ulcers.
Complications of these are quite rare but can get very serious. Some of the complications of stomach ulcers are as follows:
It is the most common problem which occurs when the ulcer forms at the site of a blood vessel. Bleeding can either be slow and long-term leading to anemia or rapid and severe causing a person to pass blood in vomit or stools. Endoscopy is usually used to find the cause of bleeding.
It is a rarer complication but can be quite serious if occurs. Perforation enables the bacteria of your stomach to escape and infect the lining of your abdomen causing peritonitis. From here, the infection rapidly spreads into the blood causing sepsis before spreading elsewhere. This comes with the risk of multiple organ failure and can be fatal if left untreated.
In this condition, an inflamed stomach ulcer obstructs the normal passage of food through digestive tract. Symptoms are:
The ulcers, when left untreated for a long time, can lead to the following situations:
Home remedies for ulcer are as follows:
1. Flavonoids: Foods rich in these are:
These are gastroprotective and help fighting against H.pylori.
2. Probiotics: Foods containing these are:
They are helpful in wiping out the H.pylori and ease the recovery as well.
3. Honey: It is a powerful antibacterial and antioxidant and fights against H.pylori.
4. Garlic: The extract of garlic can prevent the growth of H.pylori as tested on lab, animals and human trials.
6. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains: Polyphenols are known for protecting the ulcers and foods containing them are dried rosemary, Mexican oregano, dark chocolate and flaxseed.
7. To reduce acid reflux pain, you must also limit:
As per medical experts, people with blood group A are more prone to get stomach ulcers, which at times can also get cancerous. It has also been observed that duodenal ulcers often happens with people with blood type O since they are unable to produce certain substance which helps in protecting the lining of their duodenum.