Dr. Maryam Khawaja
The ulcer is a localized area of erosion occurring in the stomach or duodenal lining. Ulcer is completely curable. Prevalence of peptic ulcer is high in third world countries where it is estimated at about 70% of the population suffer from this disease. The disease is transmitted by food, contaminated groundwater and through human saliva. Due to its lethality and high prevalence in Pakistan it is necessary to understand the prevention, treatment and changes in life style that may help its risks.
What is a stomach ulcer?
Stomach ulcers are painful sores that can be found in the stomach lining or small intestine. Stomach ulcers are also known as peptic ulcers. They occur when the thick layer of mucus that protects your stomach from digestive juices is reduced. Stomach ulcers are easily cured; however they can become severe without treatment.
Who has an ulcer?
Ans: Ulcers are common in Pakistan and men are more prone than women. People who suffer from an ulcer at some point in their lives heal up with treatment. People who have H. pylori present in the lining of their stomach are far more likely to develop further ulcers and so it is important that they get treatment to clear this infection.
What causes stomach ulcers?
Stomach ulcers are not necessarily caused by one single factor. The decrease in the stomach’s mucus lining that leads to an ulcer is commonly caused by:
• infection with the bacterium H. pylori. • Long-term use in excess of the recommended dosage of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. • smoking • frequent use of steroids (such as those for treating asthma) • family history of stomach ulcers • being over 50 years old • excessive consumption of alcohol
How is an ulcer diagnosed?
Ans: The usual tests to diagnose ulcer are an endoscopy or a barium meal.
What are the symptoms of stomach ulcers?
Ans: There are a number of symptoms associated with stomach ulcers. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the ulcer. The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the area between your chest and belly button. Normally, the pain will be more intense when your stomach is empty and it can last for a few minutes or several hours. Other common symptoms include: • Dull burning pain in the stomach • Weight loss • Not wanting to eat because of pain in the stomach • Nausea and vomiting • Bloating • Burping • Heart burn • Pain improves when you eat drink or take antacids.
What can be done for an ulcer?
Ans: About one third of duodenal ulcers heal by themselves within a month. Dietary treatment used to be recommended for ulcers, but drug treatment is now so effective that the main dietary advice is simply to avoid foods which cause indigestion.
Do ulcers come back after treatment?
Ans: Most ulcers heal in four to eight weeks but they are very likely to come back in the future unless Helicobacter pylori infection is successfully treated.
Most people with peptic ulcers get better when treated with the appropriate medicine. Although ulcers can cause discomfort, they are rarely life threatening. Ulcers can have several complications. These usually develop in people who do not receive appropriate treatment.