Stomach burning pain of ulcers could be severe enough to interfere with your daily routines. The pain is usually aggravated by stomach acid. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, and appetite loss. The disease can also cause serious complications if not promptly treated. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to calm an ulcer attack and prevent it from worsening. With prompt treatment, it’s curable and you can expect full recovery without having serious problems.
Take antacids (if necessary)!
Your stomach and intestinal linings are naturally equipped with thick mucus so they will not get hurt easily. For example, this mucus is essential to protect the linings from digestive juice containing hydrochloric acid and pepsin.
But sometimes the amount of mucus decreases and the amount of acid increases, making the lining of your stomach and intestine become exposed. In time, this imbalance may cause an open sore called ulcer.
There are several factors that can make ulcers more likely to develop. The main one is infection caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. Most cases of ulcers are linked with H-pylori infection, though not all people with H-pylori infection develop ulcers. Another common culprit is overuse of pain relievers, especially such as NSAIDs.
When you eat foods, stomach acid is required to help break down nutrients. In such case, ulcer symptoms usually settle down. But when what you eat is digested (for example between meals), there is no enough food that can buffer the acid. As a result the acid can accumulate and wash against the open sore, exposing it up and causing a burning-painful sensation. Sometimes the pain could be very strong, especially when your stomach is empty.
A number of medications are available to heal the open sore. Most of them are aimed to control stomach acid and promote healing. These include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), acid blockers (Histamine H-2 blockers), and sometimes cytoprotective agents to give extra protection for the lining of your stomach and intestine.
But ulcer medications usually take some time to work. Since they don’t start to work right away, you may need antacids for your quick pain relief.
Antacids can quickly neutralize your existing stomach acid. Though they don’t heal ulcers, they can help provide rapid symptom relief. See also do’s and don’ts to cope with ulcers!
A few options of natural remedies may also help. But to keep safe, it’s recommended to ask your doctor before using any alternative medications.
Some natural remedies to help relieve ulcer symptoms are as follows:
- 24 cup of aloe vera (3 times a day). It’s thought that aloe vera might help boost the recovery by promoting healing of the affected stomach and intestinal lining.
- Essential oils of frankincense and peppermint might help relieve some ulcer symptoms. Add two drops of frankincense and peppermint oils to your water – take it 2 times a day.
- Probiotics to help fight against digestive infections, this is especially helpful if your ulcer is associated with H-pylori infection. Try also fermented foods, for examples; kefir, low-fat yogurt, and kimchi.
- Other natural remedies that might help include; 2 gram of L-glutamine (3 times a day, to help protect and heal your digestive tract), 1 cup of chamomile (3-4 times a day, to provide a soothing-calm effect on your nerves and promote healing), and 500 mg of licorice root (take before meals) to help inhibit H-pylori bacteria & drive more mucus in your stomach lining.
Lifestyle and diet changes
The goal of ulcer treatments is to relieve the symptoms and promote healing by controlling the stomach acid level, protecting the stomach and intestinal lining (if necessary), improving the body immune system (especially if the underlying cause is H-pylori infection), and eliminating any factors that can inhibit your healing & recovery.
And along with medications, some lifestyle measures may also help relieve the symptoms and boost your recovery. Here are some of the helpful ones.
Though there is no specific ulcer diet, certain foods may worsen the symptoms. These include acidic foods, caffeinated beverages, fatty foods, fried (oily) foods, and other foods that can provoke upset stomach – read also stomach ulcer diet restrictions!
And it’s worth a try to eliminate common gastric irritants or allergies like dairy products and foods containing gluten (test your reactions). Also, maintain your healthy body weight!
In addition, eating small meals throughout the day may help control and relieve the symptoms. But make sure to eat your meals more regularly! Eating too often (especially if you eat irregularly) could become counterproductive since this will cause more excess stomach acid.
Deal with stress!
According to several studies, stress alone doesn’t cause ulcers. But with other factors (H-pylori infection and regular use of NSAIDs for examples), it has an effect to increase the risk and worsen the condition. Stress can also impair your body immune system, making your more susceptible to get sick from various virus, bacteria, and parasites.
Some experts believe that there is brain-gut connection involved in many digestive processes. Your body easily takes up on perceived changes and threats how your digestion is performed – that’s why people with psychological problems are more likely to have some sort of digestive problems.
So it’s important to deal with your stress, even though if it is often inevitable. To help control and reduce your stress, take benefit of natural stress relieves – for examples; having a good relationship with others, regularly exercising, having enough sleep, spending more time for outdoor activities, and practicing healing therapies (like yoga).
Drop poor and highly-inflammatory lifestyle habits!
A few lifestyle habits can weaken the body immune system, making the lining of your stomach and intestine more vulnerable to infection triggered by H-pylori bacteria. To boost your body immune system and have quick healing from ulcers, drop the following poor and highly-inflammatory lifestyle behaviors:
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Cigarette smoking. Research facts show that tobacco smoke causes ulcer medications become less effective, which in turn may make ulcers become more painful and more difficult to heal.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Diet high in fats and processed foods.
Also, stop NSAIDs!
NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — like ibuprofen and aspirin — increase the risk of ulcers – especially if you use them excessively. These pain killers can hurt your stomach and intestinal lining. If your ulcer is caused by NSAIDs, you need to avoid them for a while at least until the disease is completely healed. Ask your doctor for alternative pain killers that don’t’ provoke ulcers, such as Tylenol!
Take your ulcer medications properly!
The good news, most cases of ulcers (about 90 % of all cases) can be cured without the need for surgery since there are now some effective non-surgical medications available.
If your ulcer is caused by H-pylori infection, take your antibiotics and other medications for the duration directed by your doctor. Don’t early stop the medications, even though if you start to feel better. Because incomplete course of antibiotics may lead to antibiotic resistance – the medications may wipe out some of bacteria, but not all of them! As a result, the surviving bacteria could be resistant.
Other possible causes of refractory ulcers are as follows:
- Bad lifestyle factors such as if you continue smoking and drink high amounts of alcohol. Tobacco smoke and too much consumption of alcohol can hurt your stomach and intestinal lining, making your ulcer more difficult to heal.
- If you continue regularly using pain killers (NSAIDs) or other medications that raise the risk of ulcers.
- In rare cases, refractory ulcers could be a consequence of an infectious cause other than H-pylori infection, stomach cancer, or other medical conditions (such as Crohn’s disease and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome).
Treatment usually involves treating underlying conditions or eliminating factors that interfere with your healing process, along with involving different types of antibiotics. So it’s important to identify the underlying causes of a refractory ulcer!