In Nigeria, the first question you get from anyone whenever ulcers come up in conversation is about your diet. Do you eat three square meals? How long do you wait between meals? Are you on a diet? But what really is the truth about ulcers? Are they caused by starvation or something else? Find out!
Very rarely do you get asked if it’s about something eating you up instead of what you eat. So, reveal the truth about ulcers, we’ve come up with a fact sheet of sorts about what they are, what heightens them and how to prevent or treat them.
What are ulcers?
Ulcers are painful sores found in the lining of the:
- Stomach (known as a gastric ulcer) or
- Small intestine (known as a duodenal ulcer)
What really causes ulcers?
Research conducted since the mid-1980s has shown that bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are present in more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and about 80% of stomach ulcers.
Overuse of over-the-counter painkillers (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), heavy alcohol use, psychological stress, and smoking exacerbate and may promote the development of ulcers, especially in someone with H. pylori.
Podcast: Ulcer: Dispelling The Myths
The most common symptom of ulcers is chronic pain in the abdomen which pain can happen just after meals for gastric ulcers & while for duodenal ulcers, it’s two or three hours after meals or at night.
Other symptoms include: vomiting, bloating, dark stools, unintended weight loss, etc.
How are ulcers treated?
The truth about ulcers is that they are sores that need to heal. Take antibiotics & acid-reducing medication if your ulcer is caused by H.Pylori bacteria.
You may need to stop taking certain medications if your ulcer is exacerbated by using certain medications.
How can I manage my ulcer symptoms?
- Limit foods and beverages that make your ulcer symptoms feel worse (e.g. spicy foods).
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol increases stomach acid.
- Limit caffeine to no more than 3 cups per day.
What may help prevent an ulcer?
Get enough fibre, especially soluble fibre. You can find these in vegetables, fruits, oatmeal and oat bran, barley, peanut butter, nuts, and legumes such as beans, peas, etc.
- Talk with your health care provider if you take NSAIDs or medications that contain caffeine or acetylsalicylic acid.
- Limit or stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of ulcers and can make it harder for them to heal.
That’s all we have on this topic and we hope you’ve learned something new. Till next time, do have a good day, make an effort to be happy and be kind to others. Cheers!