What are Ulcers?
A peptic ulcer, is an open sore that develops on the inside lining of the stomach or the small intestine.
It was previously believed that peptic ulcers were caused by lifestyle choices like diet, smoking, alcohol and stress, but the leading cause is actually a type of bacteria called H. Pylori, which infects the stomach and small intestine.
Another common cause of ulcers is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen.
How common are Ulcers?
Many people do not suffer symptoms of ulcers so it is difficult to estimate how common they are. Peptic ulcers can affect people of any age and any sex.
What are the symptoms of Ulcers?
The most common symptom of an ulcer is a burning pain in the centre of your stomach which can travel up and down the body. It usually develops between 2 to 5 hours after eating. Other symptoms include indigestion and heartburn, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Peptic ulcers can cause complications like internal bleeding, symptoms of which include vomiting blood, passing ‘tar-like’ stools, and a sudden sharp stomach pain that worsens over time.
How are Ulcers treated?
If your ulcer is caused by an H. pylori infection you will be treated with a course of antibiotics. If the ulcer is caused by NSAIDs you will be treated with a course of proton pump inhibitors.
You can also take antacids and alginates to neutralise stomach acid and line your stomach to reduce symptoms.
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