A stomach ulcer refers to a breakage in the lining tissue of the stomach. Stomach ulcers are commonly caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. 60% of the stomach ulcers and most duodenal ulcers are caused by the infection due to this bacterium. Symptoms of stomach ulcer due to the infection include indigestion and dyspepsia. People may also suffer from symptoms similar to those of anemia such as light-headedness.
Treatment includes taking antibiotic drugs to combat the infection and acid-suppressing drugs.
Causes of stomach ulcers
Many factors contribute to stomach ulcers, some of the common ones include:
- Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium affects more than 60% of the population causing stomach ulcers and more than 90% with duodenal ulcers.
- Medications. These include clopidogrel—taken to prevent heart problems, aspirin and drugs used to treat arthritis. Additionally, anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS also have been known to cause stomach ulcers.
- Cancer. Stomach cancers may result in stomach ulcers—usually in older people.
- Abdominal pain—below the rib cage
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Significant weight loss
- Unusual or bright blood in the vomit or stool (usually dark or black)
- Shock as a result of excessive blood loss
The following factors may make you susceptible to developing a stomach ulcer:
- Infection due to H. pylori bacterium
- Family history with stomach ulcers
- Usage of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen
- Regular consumption of alcohol
- Other already-present illnesses such as lung, liver or kidney disease
- An age of 50 years or above
It is important to note that stomach ulcers may turn into medical emergencies—when shock occurs—therefore, it is important that you get your condition diagnosed and get medical treatment from your doctor.
The following are some treatment options that can be considered to alleviate some of the symptoms:
- Take antibiotic medications. These should be taken after diagnosis and under the consent of your doctor. Antibiotic medications are taken to kill the H.pylori bacterium. Additionally, you can take drugs to speed up the healing process. You may have to take different medications in combination to treat certain symptoms such as rashes and diarrhea. Moreover, antibiotic resistance may also be a factor causing you to take more drugs.
- You will have to take regular breath tests in order to confirm if the treatment medications are working effectively.
- You will have to change your existing medication doses, particularly those that treat heart disease and arthritis to reduce the harmful effects due to stomach ulcers.
- Take drugs to reduce the acidic content of the gastric juices in your stomach to reduce the severity of stomach ulcers.
- Consider some lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking. Smoking greatly impairs the body’s immune system and thus, slows down the healing process.
- Quit smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid overuse of NSAIDs and aspirin
To learn about more serious medical emergencies such as internal bleeding and circulatory emergencies enrol in workplace approved first aid training with one of our training partners. Unfortunately, stomach ulcers are not covered in any workplace approved program.