How to Cope with an Ulcer

There are a variety of reasons why you might develop an ulcer. Some ulcers are caused by bacteria, while others are caused by too much acid in the digestive tract. Ulcers might also be caused by overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like Tylenol. Regardless of the cause, ulcers can be very painful and potentially life threatening. Coping with an ulcer and managing its pain and symptoms is very important to the healing process. But remember, always see your doctor for professional health advice on treatment appropriate to your needs.



Seeking Medical Treatment

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    Consult a doctor. Schedule an appointment with your medical professional. Most ulcers are caused by a type of bacteria, H. Pylori, which increases the acidity in your stomach. However, some ulcers are caused by autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will diagnose your or refer you to a specialist who will advise you on medical treatments.
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    Rely on prescribed antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). If your doctor diagnoses your ulcer as caused by a H. pylori bacterial infection, they will probably prescribe you a course of antibiotics and PPIs. The antibiotics will fight the bacteria, and the PPI will lower the amount of acid your stomach produces. PPIs are generally prescribed for several weeks and include:

    • Omeprazole.
    • Pantoprazole.
    • Lansoprazole.
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    Take PPIs. If your stomach ulcer is just caused by taking NSAIDs, a course of PPI medication might be recommended. The PPIs will lower the amount of acid your stomach produces, and allow your ulcer to slowly heal. In addition, your medical professional will probably evaluate your use of NSAIDS and potentially prescribe an alternate painkiller.[1][2][3][4]
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    Use antacids. Your doctor might recommend taking antacids. Antacids are medicines that reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. Reducing the amount of acid in your stomach will, in many cases, relieve pain and help the healing process. Some antacids also contain a medicine called an “alginate,” which produces a protective coating on the lining of your stomach. Remember, always tell your medical professional about any medicine you are taking to treat your ulcer.



Staying Healthy and Monitoring your Diet and Nutrition

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    Keep a pain journal. Once you suspect that you have an ulcer, you should consider writing down when you feel the pain intensify. Make a daily log as to what you are eating. Also keep notes about your daily activities. Try to identify common patterns, as this will help you and your medical professional come to a proper diagnosis. It will also give you an idea of what foods and activities to avoid. [5]
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    Prevent yourself from overeating. Overeating will make your stomach work harder, and increase your stomach acid. Instead, prepare smaller portions, drink water, and stop eating when you begin to feel full. But remember, although eating less might reduce pain, it will not cure your ulcer by itself.
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    Stay away from fried and spicy foods. Greasy and acidic foods can increase the level of acid in your stomach. This will aggravate your ulcer, and cause you discomfort. Instead of fried foods, try to bake or grill your food. As for spicy food, you don’t have to give it up, just tone it down until you get your ulcer under control.
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    Avoid drinks that might aggravate your ulcer. Some drinks might contribute to higher acid levels in your stomach. These drinks will aggravate your condition, cause pain, and increase the length of your healing process. Instead, consider green tea, milk, or water. Avoid the following:

    • Caffeinated drinks like coffee and black tea.
    • Sugary drinks.
    • Carbonated drinks.
    • Citrus-based drinks.
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    Stay away from alcohol. Alcohol can potentially make your condition even worse. It is associated with H. pylori infections. There is a good chance it could contribute to stomach ulcers. Limit alcohol consumption to as little as possible.
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    Stop smoking. Smoking is associated with peptic ulcer disease in people who are infected with H.pylori. Smoking also increases the production of stomach acid. Stopping smoking will not only decrease acid, strengthen your body against H. pylori, but it will make you generally healthier over time. [6]



Treating Yourself with Home Remedies

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    Manage your stress level. While most ulcers are caused by bacteria or other factors, for a small group of people, stress is a major factor in triggering ulcers. Regardless of which group you are in, lowering your stress level will make you a happier person and help your body heal. Ways to reduce stress include:

    • Yoga.
    • Exercise
    • Other relaxing activities.
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    Eat foods containing flavonoids. Flavonoids may be an effective treatment for some stomach ulcers, because they coat and protect the lining of the stomach and could allow ulcers to heal. Flavonoids occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. But beware, some foods and drinks that contain flavonoids — such as citrus fruits — can irritate a stomach ulcer. Foods and drinks rich in flavonoids include:

    • Legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts.
    • Broccoli.
    • Apples.
    • Berries.
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    Choose foods containing polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants and may protect your stomach from ulcers. They might also help ulcers heal. Foods that contain polyphenols include:

    • Dried rosemary.
    • Dark chocolate.
    • Blueberries.
    • Black olives.
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    Consume probiotics. Probiotics are living bacteria and yeast that help keep your digestive system working properly. Studies have shown that probiotics might fight H. pylori bacteria. There is also evidence that they may help the ulcer healing process, too. Consider the following foods that contain probiotics:

    • Buttermilk.
    • Yogurt.
    • Miso.
    • You can also take probiotics in supplement form.[7][8]

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