Just like what the name suggests, stomach ulcers are sores on the lining of the stomach. It’s not unlikely for these painful lesions to also appear in the duodenum (the initial part of the small intestine right after the stomach) as well as the esophagus. Stomach ulcers show up when the layer of mucus that protects the mentioned parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is reduced.
The American Gastroenterological Association or AGA says that approximately 4 million people are suffering from stomach ulcers. Also according to the said community of gastroenterologists, about 1 in 10 people is likely to develop the condition in his or her lifetime. Luckily, stomach ulcers can be easily cured, although they can also quickly worsen if left untreated.
Common Causes of Stomach Ulcers
As earlier mentioned, stomach ulcers occur when the layer of mucus on the lining of the stomach as well as the duodenum and esophagus is eroded. There are a handful of reasons why this could happen:
- Bacterial infection. Spiral-shaped bacteria called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori can sometimes dig into the lining of the stomach. Mixing the action of these bacteria with the presence of stomach acids can cause those painful lesions to surface.
- Long-term intake of NSAIDs. NSAIDs stand for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Prolonged intake of these medications with pain- and fever-reducing effects can cause the development of ulcers. Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen are some examples of NSAIDs.
- Experts say that individuals who have family history of stomach ulcers are likelier to suffer from the condition than those who don’t.
- In the past, stress was believed to cause stomach ulcers. A lot of specialists these days, however, say that stress is known to make the symptoms of already existing ulcers to worsen.
- Certain medical conditions. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare condition that causes the body to produce excessive amounts of stomach acids, thus leaving those afflicted with it at higher risk of stomach ulcers. Rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease and emphysema are conditions that increase the likelihood of stomach ulcers.
Tips on Preventing Stomach Ulcers
Lifestyle changes can be effective at keeping stomach ulcers at bay. They are the following:
- Quit smoking. Individuals who smoke are said to be at higher risk of having the condition. What’s more, smokers tend to suffer from lesions that heal very slowly.
- Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol causes the stomach to produce more acids, thus making GI tract’s lining more susceptible to getting eroded. It’s a good idea to cut back on alcohol intake most especially if you take NSAIDs.
- Include fiber in the diet. A diet rich in fiber may help reduce your chances of suffering from stomach ulcers. The inclusion of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet may help in warding off the painful condition.
- Get plenty of exercise. According to a study, being physically active helps reduce your risk of having ulcers.
- Manage stress. Because stress can aggravate the symptoms of the condition, it’s a good idea to avoid as much stressors as you can. Yoga, massages, music listening, writing in journal and other stress-busting activities are highly recommended.
Home Remedies for Stomach Ulcers
There are a handful of drugs that a physician may recommend for someone with mild to moderate stomach ulcers. However, many of them may yield side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and diarrhea. Fortunately, there are different all-natural home remedies for stomach ulcers.
- Cabbage juice. The intake of 1/2 cup of cabbage juice morning and night can be beneficial for sufferers of stomach ulcers. Cabbage juice produces a certain type of amino acid that helps strengthen the stomach’s lining. Plus it’s also packed with vitamin C necessary for healing those painful lesions.
- Cayenne pepper. Being a really hot spice, you might think that staying away from cayenne pepper is a good idea. However, drinking a glass of warm water with 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper is a wonderful home remedy for stomach ulcers. It reduces the production of stomach acids while increases the amount of mucus secretions in the GI tract.
- Eating up to 3 bananas daily works effectively against stomach ulcers in a couple of ways. First, it neutralizes excess stomach acids. Second, bananas have antibacterial properties that may inhibit the growth of H. pylori – bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers.
- Coconut water. Just like bananas, coconut water has powerful antibacterial properties that help hamper the multiplication of H. pylori. Drinking coconut water is a refreshing way to keep stomach ulcers away.
- Licorice tea. Drinking licorice tea 2 to 3 times a day may help treat stomach ulcers because it helps in increasing the amount of mucus secretions in the GI tract that protect the stomach from excess acids.