This article discusses the causes, symptoms, home remedies as well as medical treatment for ulcers. Before learning how to cure ulcer, learning more about the disease can help you solve this condition and make the healing process faster.
What Is Ulcer?
An ulcer is defined as an erosion or open sore found on the surface of a tissue or organ. Ulcers are commonly found in the digestive tract, particularly the esophagus, the stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), where they are called peptic ulcers.
Causes of Ulcer
- H. pylori. Helicobacter pylori are common bacteria that are found in around half of all people below 60 years old in the US. Most people do not have a problem having these in their stomachs, but in some people, they dig into the stomach's lining. The presence of bacteria and gastric acids irritate the stomach lining, causing ulcers to develop.
- Aspirin and NSAIDs. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to relieve pain over long periods contribute to the development of ulcers.
- Heredity. A family history of peptic ulcers increases the likelihood of acquiring this condition. Furthermore, people with liver disease, type O blood, emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, or stomach and pancreatic cancers have an increased risk for ulcers.
Symptoms of Ulcer
Symptoms of ulcers can be mild to severe, consisting of heartburn or a burning sensation above the navel that radiates to the upper body. Pain may occur half an hour after meals or when the stomach is empty at night. Pain may subside after eating, drinking or taking antacids.
Other symptoms include constipation, nausea and vomiting. Internal bleeding form ulcers is manifested by blood in the stool (color is black) or vomit (bright red color). Excessive thirst and fainting may occur in advanced cases.
If left untreated, ulcers may cause erosion of blood vessels and other internal organs, which can be life threatening.
How to Cure Ulcer: Home Remedies
- Limit Alcohol. Medical experts consider heavy alcohol intake as a risk factor for developing ulcers.
- Quit Smoking. Research shows a link between cigarette smoking and development of ulcers. Smoking increases the secretion of stomach acids and inhibits prostaglandin and sodium bicarbonate secretion, which normally protect the stomach lining. Smoking also reduces the stomach's ability to heal because it decreases blood circulation.
- Manage Your Stress. Stress management, meditation, yoga, and exercise can help reduce stress, which worsens your ulcers.
- Eat wisely. To keep gastric juices from damaging the lining of the stomach, it is best to have some food in the stomach as much as possible. Eating small meals frequently and snacking on healthy treats like whole-wheat crackers can help prevent excessive stomach acid secretion.
- Avoid milk. Milk has often been used to neutralize stomach acids, but scientists now say that calcium-rich foods increase stomach acids. While protein in milk may soothe the stomach, calcium may worsen the ulcers.
- More fiber. Eat as much unrefined, high-fiber foods as possible, such as spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, Processed grains like white flour are low in fiber and protein.
- More bananas. Bananas contain an antibacterial compound that inhibits the growth of H. pylori. Studies show that animals that feed on bananas have thick stomach walls and greater mucus production, which helps maintain a barrier between the digestive acids and the inner stomach lining.
- Garlic. This food ingredient has antibacterial properties, which protect against H. pylori. Eat two small cloves (crushed) daily.
- Plums. Purple and red-colored foods like plums and berries inhibit H. pylori growth.
- Minerals. Bismuth salts, like bismuth subcitrate, have antibacterial properties against H. pylori.
- Licorice. Studies demonstrate the ulcer-healing properties of licorice. It reduces the ability of acid to damage the inner lining. Licorice can be taken as a capsule, but it can also be taken as licorice tea, from licorice root.
- Powdered bark. Slippery elm bark soothes the mucous membranes lining the stomach and duodenum. It can be taken in powder form. Some herbal experts recommend taking one teaspoon of powdered bark in a cup of warm water thrice a day.
How to Cure Ulcer: Medical Treatments
- Drugs to fight H. pylori usually include a combination of antibiotics and other drugs to reduce production of stomach acid.
- Triple Therapy includes a two-week course of two antibiotics and a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI), which is an acid suppressor that decreases stomach acid production. PPIs heal gastric and duodenal ulcers, including those caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Taking triple therapy for two weeks kills bacteria, reduces symptoms, and prevents ulcers from recurring.
- Avoid NSAIDs to help heal ulcers. Your doctor may prescribe PPIs to neutralize stomach acids and H2-blockers, which are drugs that decrease the production of acid.
When to See a Doctor
If you have peptic ulcers, call 911 or emergency medical services immediately if you have symptoms like chest pains, shock, severe abdominal pain, bleeding, dizziness, or lightheadedness. You should also seek medical help if your symptoms persist or become worse after two weeks of treatment or if you vomit frequently, lose weight or notice changes in your stool.