What is a Stomach Ulcer?
A stomach ulcer (also called a peptic ulcer) is a small erosion (hole) in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common type, duodenal, occurs in the first 12 inches of small intestine beyond the stomach. Ulcers that form in the stomach are called gastric ulcers. An ulcer is not contagious or cancerous. Duodenal ulcers are almost always benign, while stomach ulcers may become malignant.
Stomach ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of Americans yearly. The size of a stomach ulcer can range between 1/8 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch
What causes Stomach Ulcers?
The direct cause of peptic ulcers is the destruction of the gastric or intestinal mucosal lining of the stomach by hydrochloric acid, an acid normally present in the digestive juices of the stomach. Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is thought to play an important role in causing both gastric and duodenal ulcers. Helicobacter pylori may be transmitted from person to person through contaminated food and water. Antibiotics are the most effective treatment for Helicobacter pylori peptic ulcers.
Injury of the gastric mucosal lining, and weakening of the mucous defenses are also responsible for gastric ulcers. Excess secretion of hydrochloric acid, genetic predisposition, and psychological stress are important contributing factors in the formation and worsening of duodenal ulcers.
Another major cause of ulcers is the chronic use of anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin. Cigarette smoking is also an important cause of ulcer formation and ulcer treatment failure.
Stomach Ulcer symptoms
The major symptom of an ulcer is a burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach area that lasts between 30 minutes and 3 hours. This pain is often interpreted as heartburn, indigestion or hunger. The pain usually occurs in the upper abdomen, but sometimes it may occur below the breastbone. In some individuals the pain occurs immediately after eating. In other individuals, the pain may not occur until hours after eating. The pain frequently awakens the person at night. Weeks of pain may be followed by weeks of not having pain. Pain can be relieved by drinking milk, eating, resting, or taking antacids.
Appetite and weight loss are other symptoms. Persons with duodenal ulcers may experience weight gain because the persons eats more to ease discomfort. Recurrent vomiting, blood in the stool and anemia are other symptoms.
What does a Stomach Ulcer affect?
The main thing that a stomach ulcer affects is the nerves surrounding it. The nerves become agitated and cause a great amount of pain. However, stomach ulcers can cause hemorrhages from the erosion of a major blood vessel; a tear in the wall of the stomach or intestine, with resultant peritonitis; or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract because of spasm or swelling in the area of the ulcer
West medicine treat peptic ulcer
The short-term goals of peptic ulcer disease (PUD) treatment are to promote ulcer healing, prevent potential complications, and when h. pylori is present, provide an optimal environment for an effective antibiotic therapy. The long-term goals of treatment include resolving the ulcer, preventing recurrence and avoiding potential complications. The treatment plan for PUD differs by the cause (NSAID vs. non-NSAID users) and location (stomach vs. duodenum) of the ulcer. The medications used in PUD management include acid suppressants (antacids, histamine-2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors) and gastric mucosal protectants, for relief of symptoms and to promote ulcer healing, and antibiotics to eradicate h. pylori when it is present.NSAID induced ulcers are generally treated by stopping NSAID use and providing acid suppressive therapy. Increased mucosal protection may also be included in the treatment plan in people who cannot stop taking NSAIDs. Non-NSAID induced ulcers are usually caused by h. pylori and are treated with a combination of antibiotics and acid suppressive therapy. In both NSAID and non-NSAID induced ulcers, acid suppressive therapy is given in higher doses and for a longer duration for stomach ulcers than for duodenal ulcers because stomach ulcers take longer to heal
Chinese Medicine treat peptic ulcer
In TCM, treatment for peptic ulcer is based on disharmony patterns or therapies according to the western symptoms of peptic ulcer syndromes. An alternative is to integrate western and Chinese approaches to create a synergetic effect on the disease, thus enhancing clinical efficacy. The following are brief introductions to TCM approaches:
A. Treatment based on TCM syndromes
- Qi stagnation:
Therapeutic aim: Soothing the liver to regulate qi.
- Heat retention
Therapeutic aim: Soothing the liver and eliminating heat.
- Blood stasis
Therapeutic aim: Activating blood to resolve stagnation
B. Single Proven Prescription
In practice, a lot of recipes have been proved effective against the disease but were not listed in medical journals. These recipes do not follow any particular diagnostic rules in TCM but are used only when the disease is confirmed as peptic ulcer. For example pearl powder is effective in providing relief from symptoms and speeding up the healing of an ulcer.
C. Acupuncture and moxibustion
This method is used to provide pain relief, and commonly applied according to the differentiation of the affected meridian. For example, in the case of liver and stomach disharmony, acu-points in the Leg Yang Ming Stomach Meridian and Leg Jue Yin Liver Meridian are chosen.
Besides the above therapeutic methods, dietary therapy, qi-gong, massage and physical exercise benefit the patient. These methods complement the drug therapy to improve total efficacy
Therapeutic aim: Warming the middle burner to strengthen the spleen