In the last several weeks I have been writing blogs about stomach pain or discomfort. I have covered food allergies and heartburn and the more I think about stomach pain the more topics I think about covering to help you identify what the possible conditions might be. All of these blogs are designed to help you see the need to follow up with your naturopathic doctor or healthcare practitioner to help you accurately identify which disease you may be suffering from and to make sure you get treated it appropriately.
This week I wanted to discuss stomach ulcers or peptic ulcers. Up to 10% of the populations will develop a peptic ulcer during their lives. A peptic ulcer is defined as an erosion of the tissue that produces a sore the lining of organ that crater like in nature. There are two typical places where they develop in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or in the first part of the small intestine (duodenal ulcer). Some of the more common symptoms of stomach ulcers cause stomach or abdominal pain usually one hour after a meal or while sleeping during the night. Sometimes the pain will be relieved by food, antacids. Other symptoms could include belching, bloody or dark tarry stools, chest pain or heartburn, indigestion, nausea or possible vomiting, sometimes bloody or weigh loss.
Under healthy conditions the lining of the stomach is able to handle the very acidic nature of the stomach, pH between 1.5 – 3. The stomach is actually one of the most acidic parts of the body. In the case of a peptic ulcer the lining of the stomach or small intestine become weakened and it tears creating a crater like area. This creates an environment for Helicobacter pylori to live and reproduce.
In the last several years medical research has uncovered that most of cases of ulcers are accompanied by or a result of a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. Almost all of the duodenum ulcers and more than half of the gastric ulcers have infections as well. Overuse of aspirin, buprofen, and naproxen may also cause ulcers.