Stomach ulcers are painful sores that can be found in the stomach lining or small intestine. They occur when the protective mucus that lines the stomach becomes ineffective. The stomach produces a strong acid to help digest food and protect against microbes. To protect the body’s tissues from this acid, it also secretes a thick layer of mucus. If the mucus layer is worn away and stops functioning effectively, the acid can damage the stomach tissue, causing an ulcer. An estimated 1 in every 10 people will have an ulcer in the stomach or small intestine at some point in their lives.
Common causes of stomach ulcers include:
1. Excess stomach acidity (hyperacidity) – this can occur for a range of reasons, including genetics, smoking, stress, and some foods.
2. Zollinger-Ellison – a disease that causes an excess of stomach acid to be produced (rare).
The chances of developing a stomach ulcer due to certain risk factors such as
1. Frequent steroid usage
3. Overproducing calcium – hypercalcemia
5. Consuming alcohol frequently
6. Age – they are more common in individuals over 50. People of any age can develop a stomach ulcer, but they are much less common in children. The risk in children is higher if their parents smoke.
The common symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion. Indigestion causes pain or discomfort in the stomach area. This symptom can be mistaken for heartburn, which can occur at the same time. Other common symptoms include:
1. Dull pain in the stomach
2. Weight loss
3. Not wanting to eat because of pain
4. Nausea or vomiting
5. Burping or acid reflux
6. Heartburn (burning sensation in the chest)
7. Pain improves when you eat, drink, or take antacids.
To prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce risk of bacterial infection, wash your hands with soap and water on a regular basis. Make sure all food is properly cleaned and cooked thoroughly. Certain lifestyle changes can also help prevent ulcers from forming.
1. Limiting alcohol consumption
2. Avoiding tobacco products
3. Properly managing stress can all contribute to a healthy stomach lining
4. Avoid painkillers that may cause ulcers in the future
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