When peptic ulcers are irritated by the stomach acids, the affected individual can experience a burning pain. The pain can be exacerbated by the consumption of spicy and acidic food. Find out more about the nature and severity of the pain caused by peptic ulcers, and how to manage it, in this HealthHearty article.
A peptic ulcer is an ulcer or open sore that develops in the lining of the intestinal tract. More often, peptic ulcers develop in the stomach, duodenum, and the esophagus. When such ulcers develop in the stomach, they are called gastric or stomach ulcers. An ulcer of the duodenum on the other hand, is known as duodenal ulcer, while an ulcer of the esophagus is called esophageal ulcer. A peptic ulcer, irrespective of its location can produce considerable pain. Along with abdominal pain, this condition can cause a burning sensation and discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen.
Pain Caused by Peptic Ulcers
Peptic or gastric ulcers usually develop due to an infection caused by the bacteria, known as Helicobacter pylori. However sometimes, these ulcers can also be caused by factors like the prolonged and excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, smoking and chewing tobacco, an excessive consumption of alcohol, an injury or trauma to the gastric mucosal lining, severe burns, and major surgery.
Rarely, such ulcers can be associated with stomach cancer as well. The most common symptom associated with these ulcers is abdominal pain. The location of the pain can be anywhere from the navel up to the breastbone. Sometimes, the pain can radiate to other parts of the body, such as the chest or the back.
The pain is usually produced when the ulcers are irritated by the stomach acids. The affected individual usually experiences the pain within 2 to 3 hours after having a meal. If the ulcer/ulcers are located in the duodenum, then the pain can reduce after the consumption of food.
But if the ulcers are located in the stomach, then the consumption of food can worsen the pain. Spicy, highly acidic, and fatty food have been observed to exacerbate the pain caused by peptic ulcers. Even caffeine and alcohol can irritate the ulcers, and cause pain. Apart from pain, this condition can be accompanied by a few other symptoms like bloating, abdominal fullness, nausea and vomiting, and dark, tarry stool.
How to Get Relief From the Pain
The pain caused by the ulcers can be reduced to a great extent by controlling the production of stomach acid. The production of stomach acid needs to be reduced in order to accelerate the entire process of healing. Therefore, physicians usually recommend certain medications that can reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. Such medications include, antacids, acid blockers or H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.
Cytoprotective agents are sometimes used, in order to coat the lining of the stomach and the intestine, so as to promote faster healing of the ulcers. Along with these, antibiotics can also be prescribed to destroy the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori.
Along with medications, certain food can be used for pain relief, as they can neutralize or reduce the amount of stomach acid. One such food is Indian gooseberry, which can not only absorb the excess stomach acid, but can also boost the immune system.
Some other food that can help reduce the pain caused by peptic ulcers, and accelerate the healing process are, almond milk, papaya, milk, carrot and cabbage juice, aloe vera juice, green tea, chamomile tea, fenugreek tea, and yogurt.
People with peptic or gastric ulcers should eat small and frequent meals at regular intervals, instead of three large meals. At the same time, they need to avoid spicy and highly acidic food, citrus, tomato products, and sour and hot food. They should also refrain from lying down immediately after eating a meal. All such simple dietary and lifestyle changes can help reduce the pain caused by the ulcers. However, it is also important to seek medical attention for treating peptic ulcers. So, consult a physician as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.