Stomach ulcers, notoriously known by the biting ache in the abdominal region that it causes, is actually a painful sore in the stomach lining, or small intestine. It is caused by the corrosive action of stomach acids (essential to digestion) when the mucus lining of the stomach, meant to protect it from digestive juices and acids, gradually gives away.
It cannot be denied that spicy, acidic food or stress can impact acid secretions by the body, which in excess can corrode the mucous lining. Yet, more recent research has been positive about the influence of Helicobacter pylori in causing stomach ulcers.
Helicobacter pylori or H pylori is a common bacteria that grows in the digestive tract and prefers a harsh acidic atmosphere. Though more than half of the world’s population is estimated to harbour these bacteria without adverse effects, at times it turns against the host, infecting and destroying the lining of the stomach.
The association of H pylori has actually made it easier to understand why stomach ulcers have a tendency of relapse, even after it had apparently healed. People suffering from stomach ulcers usually make these common mistakes, leading to a relapse. Listed below are a few of them:
- Going back to the old dietary habits (spicy or fried food) as soon as the ulcer gets a little better is one of the main culprits. The extra acidic environment, thus created again leads to corrosion of the gut lining, or worse creates a perfect atmosphere for H pylori to become hyperactive, and cause damage.
- Most often than not, patients diagnosed with ulcers stop taking medicines as soon as the pain gets better, which leads to incomplete healing and an eventual relapse. Antibiotics used to combat the bacterial infection also have a fixed course, which needs to be precisely followed, as per the advice of the gastroenterologist.
- In order to offer relief from pain, most medications are focussed on reducing stomach acid secretions, or neutralising it. But for complete recovery the digestive system, as a whole, needs to be brought back to health. The larger lifestyle changes required for the same is what is mostly ignored by patients leading to negative repercussions.
- Stomach ulcers, at their worst, can be really painful, leading to heartburn, nausea or vomiting. Dealing with the same might be overly stressful for most. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that stress or subconscious fear might lead to greater acid secretion, worsening the situation.
- Overuse of anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen can also play a direct role in aggravating stomach ulcers.
- Something as simple as not drinking enough water could also affect stomach ulcers adversely, by adding to the general ill health of the digestive system.
- People suffering from Crohn’s disease, which is characterised by an inflammation of the small intestine, could also suffer from stomach ulcers that refuse to heal. However, this is an abnormality which is not very common and can be diagnosed with the help of a proper medical aid.
The healing time for ulcers can vary from person to person, depending on several of the above factors. However, a general healthy routine meant to ensure a complete well-being of the body, and a strict adherence to the advice of your gastroenterologist can take you a long way in your fight against ulcers, without succumbing to the risk of a relapse. For further details book an appointment with an Apollo Gastroenterologist today, at Ask Apollo.