“Do I have ulcer…?” “Is it ulcer…?”
If you experience pain…
- in the upper part of your abdomen (above the navel) or behind your chest-bone (in the middle),
- that is usually burning, or biting, or like hunger-pain,
- that sometimes wakes you up at night,
- that is reduced when you eat and comes back after some time (say, 3 hours); OR increase when you are eating (or just immediately after eating)…
… it may not be exactly as I described, but, you most likely have what we call Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD), and what you call “ulcer“!
This is a simple version of the story:
The stomach normally produces acid to digest what we eat. Therefore, the stomach has a mucous, protective lining. When there’s increase in acid production and/or decrease in the mucus (and other protective measures), the acids “eats up” portions of the esophagus, stomach, or intestine, creating “wounds” on the inside. This wound causes pain. You can guess what happens when the acid touches these “raw” parts!
I think that’s all you need to know, for now!
But, What causes these imbalance between the acids and the “protection”?
No! Pepper and spicy foods don’t cause “ulcer”!
There’s a harmful bacteria in the stomach called H. Pylori [we know a little about how it gets there; some say through food and water, others say, also, even through kissing!] that does a lot to lead to increase in acid and form “ulcers”
Also, long use of some pain-killers called NSAIDS, especially at high doses, could cause “ulcer”. NSAIDS are drugs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Piroxicam, etc. If you take them occasionally, e.g. for menstrual pain, make sure you take them after eating. Note: Paracetamol (and Panadol) is not in the list — it doesn’t cause “ulcer.”
You are at a higher risk of getting “ulcer” if you:
- have someone in your family that has “ulcer”!
- have a serious illness or have serious burns (e.g. from fire or hot water)
- take alcohol, or smoke cigarette, or chew tobacco, or take coffee (or caffeine)
- have irregular times of eating
- if you are known for anger, fear, worry, anxiety, depression, etc!
NOTE: The pain you feel is a “warning” sign. Even though the “wound” may heal, and the pain will go, and all will become normal again, sometimes things may go haywire! It may become serious with: vomiting blood; bloody stool; black (like, coal-tar), foul-smelling stool; fainting; pain and difficulty in swallowing; weight loss, and other stuffs I don’t want to talk about!
What to do:
No! Milk does not cure “ulcer”! It will make you feel better for some time,… and then, increase acid production! Instead:
- Stop taking the NSAIDS pain-killers (and talk to your doctor about it.)
- Reduce alcohol and coffee; stop smoking.
- Don’t worry; be happy!
- See your doctor (because it may not be “ulcer”; it may be something else!). For the “ulcer”, drugs will be given to clear the bacteria, reduce the acid production, and neutralize excess acid.
Finally, follow the doctor’s prescriptions carefully… and that for you, my brother, my sister, may be the end of the story, forever and ever!