Peptic ulcers - Just an outcome of hurry, curry & worry?
Clinical Nutrition • • 1 minute to read • By Dr Poonam Vichare, INFS Faculty
Author– Dr Poonam Vichare
Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine formed as a result of inflammation caused by the bacteria H. pylori, or from erosion from stomach acids.
Depending on their location in the gastrointestinal tract they are classified into three types - Gastric ulcers, Esophageal ulcers & Duodenal ulcers.
Though peptic ulcers are most commonly associated with hurry, curry & worry, the most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Stress and spicy foods do not cause but can definitely worsen the symptoms of peptic ulcers.
Symptoms of peptic ulcers commonly include Burning stomach, pain, Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching, Intolerance to fatty foods, heartburn, nausea, Vomiting, bloating, bloody or dark stools. One must be watchful of the warning signs like sudden, excruciating abdominal pain, fainting, excessive sweating, or confusion which could be signs of impending shock , blood in vomit or stool, abdomen that’s hard to the touch, abdominal pain that worsens with movement but better by lying completely still
Though all the types show overlapping features, the duodenal & gastric ulcers have some differentiating features.
One can increase the risk for developing these ulcers if one is drinking too much alcohol, using of aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) frequently, Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, undergoing radiation treatment or has been under chronic Stre ss. These ulcers can further lead to complications like perforation, internal bleeding, obstruction & g astric cancer. It is thus crucial to diagnose these at the earliest.
Diagnosis of the ulcers will require different investigations based on their location & severity. An X-ray helps in visualizing the ulcer. They can be diagnosed by endoscopy method where a fiber optic scope or camera is introduced into the stomach through the esophagus to visualize the inner lining of the stomach & intestines. A small tissue sample (biopsy) may be removed for examination in a lab which can also detect the presence of H. pylori in the stomach lining.H. pylori can also be diagnosed using a blood, stool or breath test.
Leading a healthy diet can definitely prevent the development of ulcers. Few crucial interventions include limiting alcohol, avoiding mixing alcohol with medication, cooking meat properly, drinking boiled water that is free from pathogens, and washing hands frequently to avoid infections. Limiting use of ibuprofen, aspirin, and other painkillers is also very important as they damage the protective mucosal lining of the stomach. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by quitting smoking cigarettes and other tobacco use and eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can definitely help in preventing peptic ulcers.
Millions of bacteria are present in the gut. Most of them, unlike H. pylori, are healthy & aid in digestion.& crowd out harmful bacteria. These helpful bacteria are called probiotics. These are present in foods like dairy products that have live cultures, like yogurt, kefir, and aged cheeses, kimchi, Miso & tempeh.
- Lanas, A. and Chan, F. K. L. (2017) ‘Peptic ulcer disease’, The Lancet, 390(10094), pp. 613–624. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32404-7.
- Yeomans, N. D. (2011) ‘The ulcer sleuths: The search for the cause of peptic ulcers’, Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 26(SUPPL. 1), pp. 35–41. doi: 10.1111/J.1440-1746.2010.06537.X.
- Yuan, Y., Padol, I. T. and Hunt, R. H. (2006) ‘Peptic ulcer disease today’, Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2006 3:2, 3(2), pp. 80–89. doi: 10.1038/ncpgasthep0393.
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