Gastric Ulcer: The Silent Menace

Gastric Ulcer: The Silent Menace

Experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, and indigestion? Better check with your doctor. These are the signs of gastric ulcer.

Gastric ulcer is a common disease, especially for adults. According to Reader’s Digest Health (2006), one in every ten people develops gastric ulcer. Gastric ulcer, also known as peptic disease, peptic ulcer, or stomach ulcer, happens when damage occurs in the normal lining of the stomach. (Health Central, 2006) The damage is caused by soreness and burning in the stomach. Only ulcers in the stomach are referred to as gastric ulcer. Ulcers in the other parts of the digestive track are called by other names such as esophageal ulcer for those located in the esophagus and duodenal ulcer for ulcers in the duodenum. (Ehrlich and Schroeder, 2004)


            Gastric ulcers are usually caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a spiral-shaped strain of bacteria that inhabits the end of the esophagus or stomach when there is too much acid. Ninety percent of gastric ulcer cases are caused by H. pylori. (Stomach Fitness, n.d.)

Gastric ulcers may also be caused by too much acid intake like from acidic substances such as juices, as this invites the occurrence of H. pylori. Also, the acids can burn the lining of the stomach and lead to ulcers. Many anti-inflammatory medicines also have gastric ulcer as one of their long-term side effects. (American Academy of Family Physicians [AAFP], 2005)

Beare and Myers (1998) expounded on the causes of gastric ulcer by saying that excessive intake of NSAIDs, salicylates, alcohol, as well as smoking can cause the disease. According to Reader’s Digest Health (2006) contrary to popular belief, stress does not cause gastric ulcer. There is no real connection between the two. However, the AA FP (2005) maintained that stress can aggravate the condition of someone who has gastric ulcer.

Symptoms (AAFP, 2005; Stomach Fitness, n.d.)

Gastric ulcers may manifest itself in the following symptoms, but there are cases when the symptoms do not how until the ulcer is already in its serious form.

·      Abdominal pain that wakes you up at night and occurs after eating, or when you have not eaten. This is frequently paired with indigestion.

·      Belching and burping more frequently than normal.

·      Nausea and fatigue even when fully rested.

·      Chest pain that may induce coughing and coughing off of blood; heartburn

·      Recurrent vomiting, especially if there are traces of blood in the vomit.

·      Sudden and unintentional weight loss matched with poor appetite.

What to Do

When you suspect that you have peptic ulcer based on the symptoms, check with a specialist right away to help you identify what type of peptic ulcer you acquired. This is beneficial in plotting a health and wellness plan for you. If you smoke, it is recommended that you cease from smoking, and avoid second-hand smoke as well. You should also avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and other inflammatory drugs. Stay away from caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, soda as well as caffeinated food items. Alcohol intake must be limited or stopped and, to avoid inviting heartburn, cease from spicy food. (AAFP, 2005) Stomach pains brought about by gastric ulcer may be treated by over-the-counter medicines such as bismuth (e.g. Pepto Bismol) and other antacids that relieve the pain, albeit temporarily. (Stomach Fitness, n.d.)

Reader’s Digest Health (2006) also recommends taking supplements for vitamins A and C, zinc, licorice, glutamine, gamma-oryzanol, and aloe vera juice to help balance the environment in the gastric area. There is also the triple treatment wherein two antibiotics are taken along with bismuth subsalicylate or other medicine that reduces the stomach’s acid production. (AAFP, 2005) However, self-medication is highly discouraged as gastric ulcers are progressive and can aggravate. In the most serious cases, gastric ulcers can be fatal.


            A well-balanced diet is the best defense against this silent menace. Lemonick and Walsh (2004) stated that when the early people discovered agriculture, they also developed undiscovered diseases brought about by the sudden abundance of food such as anemia and contraction of several bacteria. Taking equal portions of carbohydrates, fats, protein, fiber, and other vitamins, as well as taking all-natural supplements can help prevent gastric ulcers. Not skipping meals, eating moderate amounts of food when hunger strikes, and avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol and too much intake of caffeinated food items and beverages will help prevent the disease.


American Academy of Family Physicians (2005) Ulcers: What you can do to heal your ulcer. Retrieved August 17, 2006 from

Beare, P. & Myers, J. (1998) Adult health nursing: third edition. Missouri:Mosby.

Erlich, A. & Schroeder, C. (2004) Introduction to medical terminology. New York:Delmar Learning.

Health Central by Choice Media (2006) Gastric ulcer. Retrieved August 17, 2006 from

Lemonick, M. and Walsh, B. (2004, November 08). How We Grew So Big. TIME, p. 39.

Reader’s Digest Association, The (2006) Ulcers. Retrieved August 17, 2006 from

Stomach Fitness (n.d.) Stomach ulcers. Retrieved August 17, 2006 from

Stomach Fitness (n.d.) Stomach ulcer symptoms. Retrieved August 17, 2006 from

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