Ulcers

Ulcers in mouth

Overview of ulcers

Infections caused by numerous bacterial, viral or fungal pathogens are common in tropical, subtropical or temperate regions of the world that have weather and climatic conditions ideal for the birth and propagation of these causative agents.One common disease affecting the lives of people worldwide is “ulcers”.

It is observed in all age groups and ethnic groups and is manifested in different forms along with associated clinical complications. Ulcers may also arise due to improper dietary habits and unhygienic and unhealthy lifestyles.According to recent epidemiological findings by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5-10% of the global population suffer from this condition at some point in time. Research findings also suggest that ulcers have currently become one of the primary contributors of global mortality cases.

 

What is an ulcer?

Ulcer typesIn medical terms, an ulcer is defined as an exposed sore on the outer or inner surface of the body caused by an acute infection at the points of a break in the skin or the mucous membrane lining.

These are commonly manifested as single or aggregated lesions in different parts of the human body that cause severe pain and are in most cases incurable.

Such sores are mainly formed due to bacterial infections that lead to excessive erosion and damage of the epithelial tissues at the sites of infections.

In critical cases, ulcers may be manifested as pus-filled blisters on the inner linings of vital parts of the body.

What causes them?

Ulcers (especially peptic ones) are primarily caused by bacterial infections. The generalized factors causing ulcers are listed below-

  • Bacterial infection: Infections mediated by Helicobacter pylori cause peptic ulcers. These bacteria are normally transmitted through infected fecal matters, vomit, saliva, or contaminated food and water. They propagate extensively within the stomach and cause excessive disintegration of the inner linings (mucous membranes) of the stomach.
  • Medications: Few harmful medications such as Non-steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), Corticosteroids, Prednisolone, and Anticoagulants are responsible for gastric and duodenal ulcers. Due to their acidic nature, these drugs cause degeneration of the mucous layers that lead to exposed sores which slowly develop into ulcers.
  • Hypercalcemia: Abnormal increase in calcium level in the blood leads to increased secretion of gastric juice which directly affects the mucosal linings of the stomach and causes ulcers.
  • Tobacco: Excessive intake of tobacco via smoking predisposes the human body to peptic ulcers since it destroys the immune properties of the gastric mucosa and also facilitates the intrusion of bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) into the body.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to permanent damage of the gastric mucosa (for ethanol content above 10%).
  • Diet: Frequent intake of oily and greasy foods and caffeinated beverages increases the risk of gastric ulcers by impeding the normal mechanism of production of gastric juice and pepsin. Dyspepsia also results in such cases which causes acute indigestion and gastric pain.
  • Irregularity: Having proper food after long intervals of time cause degeneration of the mucosal layer of stomach and duodenum (due to direct exposure to gastric juice) and cause gastric pain in the initial stages and gastric ulcers at an advanced stage.
  • Stress: Excessive emotional stress trigger certain physiological changes such as high pulse rate and high blood pressure that lead to increased secretion of basal acids, gradually giving rise to gastric ulcer tendencies.
  • Heredity: Genes play a vital role in developing gastric ulcers. Nearly 20-50% of duodenal ulcer patients have a family history of ulcers.

 

What are the symptoms?

The signs and symptoms are overlooked in the initial stages when gastric pains are suppressed easily by mild antacids. But when the disease gradually progresses and affects large portions of the gastrointestinal tract, the symptoms are serious and require immediate diagnosis. The commonly observed symptoms of ulcers are as follows-

  • Persistent abdominal pain that radiates upwards from middle abdomen to the thoracic region (in women ulcer pains generate immediately below the breastbone)
  • Pain starts immediately after a meal
  • Feeling of penetration or intrusion of a sharp object in the abdominal region and at times in the back
  • Acute stomach pain can cause a person wake up in the middle of the night
  • Burning sensation in stomach and chest
  • Belching with occasional backwash
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting with blood
  • Dark brown or blackish discoloration of stool (occasionally due to presence of blood)
  • Sudden occurrence of heartburn
  • Bloated belly (mostly due to generation of gas)
  • Indigestion
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

 

What are the different types of ulcers?

Different classifications are made based on different criteria.Based on the location of the lesion, the following classification is adopted-

  • Peptic: Peptic ulcers are manifested as painful lesions in the stomach or duodenum and are mediated by the Helicobacter pylori These are mainly caused by hypersecretion of digestive juice (Hydrochloric Acid) and pepsin. Prolonged exposure of the inner mucosal linings to these two cause degeneration of the epithelial tissues.
  • Gastric: Peptic ulcers found in the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Their symptoms are more or less similar to peptic ulcers.
  • Duodenal: Peptic ulcers formed in the duodenum are called duodenal ulcers. They are normally found in the uppermost portion of the small intestine (inner linings). They exhibit slightly different symptoms than that of gastric and peptic ulcers.
  • Esophageal: These ulcers are found in the lowermost portion of the esophagus and in most cases are caused by acid reflux.

Depending on the nature of the lesions they can be classified into three types-

  • Bleeding type: This is caused due to internal bleeding from an existing peptic ulcer.
  • Refractory type: These are caused by extreme cases of bacterial infection and are often incurable after treatment.
  • Stress type: These are manifested as clustered lesions in esophagus, stomach or duodenum, and are caused by excessive emotional stress.

Two other forms of ulcers have also been identified. These are-

  • Diabetic foot type: It is characterized by deep sores on the feet and is normally found in Type 2 Diabetes patients.
  • Venous type: It is also called stasis type and is characterized by sores in the lower extremities.

 

What are the potential complications?

These lesions, when left undiagnosed, can lead to the following clinical complications –

  • Haemorrhage
  • Perorations
  • Pyloric outlet obstruction
  • A hiatal hernia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Carcinoma of the stomach
  • Anemia

 

How is it diagnosed and treated?

For diagnosis of gastric ulcers, endoscopy of the upper digestive tract is carried out. 

The treatment method used for treating ulcers depends upon the cause of the ulcers – bacterial infection caused by the H.pylori bacteria or otherwise. If it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used to eliminate the pathogens and also reduce the acidic content of the stomach.  If left untreated, ulcers can worsen over time and damage the linings of stomach. They may lead to internal bleeding and even permanent scaring of tissues. Surgical intervention or endoscopy might be required at this stage to treat the ulcer.

One should refrain from consuming foods that are too greasy or spicy and put a strain on the GI tract. Smoking and drinking should be strictly prohibited. Additionally, it is important to reduce stress in order to prevent recurring ulcers.The steady growth of ulcer cases in the past few years has alarmed global health organizations. Healthy dietary habits need to be formed from childhood to reduce risks in future.

 

Facts

  • Long-term or frequent use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) is linked closely to increased episodes of ulcers.
  • Around 30%-40% of Americans experience an H.pylori bacteria infection, which may cause the formation of peptic ulcers.

Facts

• 1-3 million Americans suffer from decubitus ulcers or bed sores.
• Contrary to popular myth, 90% of ulcers are a result of stress or bacterial infection, and not due to consumption of spicy food.

Facts

• 12.5% of the entire global population will experience ulcers in the digestive tract (duodenum or stomach lining) at least once.
• People from every age group develop ulcers, but gastric ulcers are more prevalent in people above 40 years of age.

Related Conditions

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Consume more fresh fruits and vegetables. Ensure that you are chewing the food properly.
  • Keep yourself well hydrated.
  • Aloe Vera juice has ulcer healing properties. Its high vitamin A content helps in swift healing of ulcers.
Don'ts
  • Bring large gaps between meals. Eat at regular intervals.
  • Have high spice content in your food and for a few days avoid tea and coffee.
  • Consume food items with high amounts of abrasive roughage such as nuts and bran.

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
paleo keto diet
Paleo vs. Keto: Which diet plan is best suited for your body goals? Is eating like a caveman the right way to go? Can you really eat fats to burn fats…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
Isagenix diet
Isagenix Diet: Do you really need liquid meal replacements to lose weight? Isagenix Diet - What are liquid meal replacements and why is the world going ga-ga over them? Are…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
low carb foods spinach
Low carb vegetables: A complete list of what to pick from during a keto diet Is your plate of veggies making you fat? Are all vegetables created equal? Research reveals that these low…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
waking up tired
10 reasons why you might be waking up tired Do you feel you are not getting enough sleep? Sleep-deprived and frustrated? Read on discover the real reasons…
anal sex
Anal sex: Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
canola oil cooking
Canola oil: How safe is it to consume this popular cooking oil? Extracted from rapeseeds, Canola oil derives its name from Canadian Oil. Did you know that some forms of…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with essential nutrients that…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
acne removal tips
Anatomy of acne: 7 instant steps to kiss those zits goodbye Blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples-call them what you may. Acne is never good news.Did you know some of the…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic Resistance: How common diseases become deadly Can a cold kill you? How important is to get a flu shot? Why do antibiotics fail against…
cold flu sinus treatment
How to beat the common cold, flu, and sinus infection instantly? Can you guess some of the easiest tricks to treat cold and sinus infections? How are these different…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
chia seeds weight loss
Chia seeds: How to consume this staple Aztec food to get a leaner body Chia seeds: What is the actual reason for its sudden popularity? Why are celebrities swearing by its amazing…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
Whole30 diet fad
Whole30 Diet – Why eliminating certain foods just doesn’t cut it Whole30 Diet: Is this the ‘whole’-y grail of a disease-free body? Read more to find out the truth…
eating myths debunked
8 ‘healthy eating’ myths you believed until now Is a zero-carb diet really healthy for you? Are organic products worth their cost? Did you know how…
Panera bread steak arugula
Panera Bread: The truth behind this “healthy” restaurant chain What to order and what to avoid when dining at Panera Bread ? Know more about this popular…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
oral hygiene tips
6 shocking consequences of bad oral hygiene (and how to avoid them) Did you know bad breath is not just turning off, but also harms your body in ways you…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
Nitric oxide: Why is this heart-healthy supplement every sportsman’s first choice? Once considered a vastly toxic substance, nitric oxide is now deemed to be a great health supplement. Find…
castor oil hair
Castor oil : A vitamin-rich oil for shiny locks and healthy bowels Castor oil bestows unlimited benefits, whether you use it for your hair or skin. But did you know…
low fodmap plan
Troubled with IBS? Here’s a complete roadmap to the low FODMAP diet Leaky & inflammatory gut troubling you? No medicine bringing you relief from the pain? Why not try the…
Ketosis bad breath
Ketosis: A potentially dangerous side effect of the popular keto diet? Ketosis occurs when you have too low carb intake. Though it means rapid fat loss, it could also…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
stress adverse effects
Fight, flight, or freeze: 8 ways stress can ruin your body Did you know that stress is in-built in our systems? It helped our ancestors respond to danger. How…
top 5 deadliest cancers
A sneak peek into the top 5 deadliest cancers and the true nature of their origins Did you know that cancer is the 2nd leading cause of deaths globally? Among the 100s of different…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Potassium healthy
Potassium: How only 100 mg a day can dramatically increase your lifespan! The word potassium comes from the process where wood ashes were stored in pots for extraction. What else…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
CBD oil safe
Cannabidiol benefits: Evaluating the “highs” of CBD Oil The word cannabis paints a picture of addicts. But did you know that CBD oil, extracted from the…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Healthy pregnancy tips
How to have a healthy pregnancy: Essential tips to remember What to expect when growing a life within you? How important are prenatal vitamins anyway? Don't make these…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket The dragon fruit is packed with nutrients and yet low on calories and is the dream food that…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Military diet
Military Diet : Why following a highly restrictive diet is a bad idea Is seiging your calorie intake the right way to attack fats? Read more about Military diet, a highly…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
kale
Kale: With more iron than beef, this superfood is the ultimate way to lose weight Checkmate meat-eaters; with kale, vegans now have the ultimate iron-rich superfood as their ally that can protect from…