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7 Things You Need to Know About Gastric Ulcers

Young black woman touching her tummy, having pain

Did you know that each part of your digestive tract has a different function? From one’s mouth to the stomach, the lining in each area is different according to its needs and to make sure your body is protected during the digestion process. Should anything go wrong, the acid produced may damage the lining of the digestive tract in the stomach. This is called a gastric ulcer.

Some ulcers may go unnoticed, but others may create a hole in the stomach wall, so it is important to know a few things about them:

Bacteria have been found to be the culprit!

Helicobacter pylori bacteria is completely normal and is usually harmless. It is found in two-thirds of the world’s population and is spread through ingested infected food and water. Unfortunately, sometimes, it does attack the lining of the stomach where acid can now enter and create a painful sore.

Ulcers are usually found in your stomach

Gastric ulcers, which are only found in the stomach, are the most common form of peptic ulcer (a sore that develops on the inside of the digestive tract). Thanks to the digestive needs of the stomach, it is a far more acidic environment than the rest of the intestinal tract, which is usually alkaline to neutral, creating the perfect conditions for H. pylori to live.

Ulcers affect more people than you think

Ulcers along the gastrointestinal tract are so common that millions of people worldwide are affected every year, and they have become one of the most common medical conditions suffered by many people in Africa.

Partying doesn’t help

It is well studied that the side-effects of smoking and drinking are vast and increase your risk of many medical conditions, including gastric ulcers. People who have already been infected with H. pylori are more susceptible to ulcers because of the damaged caused by the inhaled smoke or alcohol to the lining of the stomach. So, now’s the time for a healthy detox!

Don’t over-do the medication

Taking large amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will increase your chances of getting ulcers. These drugs may assist in the short term by assisting pain relief, but they also set back the production of substances which protect the lining of your stomach. So think twice if you really need to take them, and preferably do so with food.

Psychological stress upsets your body too

It was considered the first root cause of ulcers in the early 1900s until H. pylori was discovered in 1982, but stress is still considered one of the biggest contributors to this condition. As the human body is so closely intertwined, psychological stress can take a serious toll on your body – and that includes your ulcers. Stress can both cause or aggravate them, so try and remember to take it easy should you be going through a trying period.

Your childhood has a large role to play

Children touch almost everything they can lay their hands on, making it easy for them to contract infections. Insufficient hygiene or access to clean water also increases H. pylori infections. The bacteria will sit quietly for a while, many years even, but over time they will multiply and cause gastric ulcers in a significant portion of the adult population.

Do not fear, there are many ways to treat an ulcer; from antacids to antibiotics. If treated correctly and on time, there may be no need for surgical intervention – which is both a costly and unpleasant option. What Causes Ulcers? Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/experts-what-causes-ulcers.aspx (Accessed 9th October 2018).

Nordqvist, C. What’s to know about peptic ulcers? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9273.php (Accessed 9th October 2018).

Understanding Ulcers. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/understanding-ulcers-basic-information. (Accessed 9th October 2018).

Definition & Facts for Peptic Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers). NIDDK. Retrieved fromhttps://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/peptic-ulcers-stomach-ulcers/definition-facts (Accessed 9th October 2018).