A stomach ulcer, also known as a gastric ulcer, is an open sore that develops on the lining of the stomach. The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is stomach pain. Other symptoms may include indigestion, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. Smoking, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and infection with the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria are a few causes of stomach ulcers.
Stomach ulcers are usually treated with antibiotics and medication to reduce stomach acid. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
Here are some tips to help prevent stomach ulcers:
- Avoid smoking.
- Limit your use of NSAIDs.
- Get vaccinated against H. pylori.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Manage stress.
- Get enough sleep.
- See your doctor for regular checkups.
If you have any of the symptoms of a stomach ulcer, see your doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications, such as bleeding or perforation.
Yes, taking anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) can cause ulcers. NSAIDs are a type of medication that is used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever. They work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that play a role in inflammation. However, prostaglandins also help to protect the stomach lining from damage. When NSAIDs block the production of prostaglandins, it can weaken the stomach lining and make it more susceptible to ulcers.
The risk of developing an ulcer from taking NSAIDs increases with the following factors:
- The length of time you take NSAIDs
- The dose of NSAIDs you take
- Your age
- Your medical history
- If you smoke or drink alcohol
- If you have a family history of ulcers
If you are taking NSAIDs, it is important to talk to your doctor about your risk of developing an ulcer. Your doctor may recommend taking a medication to protect your stomach lining, such as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). You should also stop taking NSAIDs if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Stomach pain
- Black stools
- Blood in your stool
- If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.