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Ulcers and Ulcer Treatments

Ulcers can occur in any part of the gastrointestinal tract (oesophagus, stomach and intestine). When ulcers occur in the stomach they are referred to as gastric ulcers. Ulcers may also occur in the duodenum (duodenal ulcers) and rarely in the lower part of the oesophagus (food tube). An ulcer occurs when the stomach acids and digestive enzymes attack the lining of the tissues. Tissues are normally protected by a thick layer of mucous. People most prone to ulcers are:

• smokers
• heavy drinkers
• people with high levels of stress
• regular users of salicylates (e.g. aspirin)
• consumers of very rich or spicy foods
• coffee drinkers
• people who suffer frequent stomach infections
• type A personalities
• people with the blood group ‘type O’

Ulcer Treatments

Medical treatments may include elimination of helicobacter pylori combined with powerful antacids to reduce stomach acid production, particularly at night. Medical interventions are often very successful after 6 – 8 weeks. Because peptic ulcers have a high recurrence rate, other behavioral changes are recommended. These include:

• reducing the intake of spicy or rich foods
• reducing the intake of foods with high fiber content
• reducing levels of alcohol
• stopping smoking
• taking up exercise / yoga / activities that help in the reduction of stress.

The days when a regular bland diet including things white fish and chicken was recommended have passed. Indeed it is now recognized that such diets may actually increase gastric acid production.

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