Ulcer Disease And You
Ulcer disease can occur from childhood into the 80's, usually from ages 20 through 50. Generally this is an uncomfortable, rather than a life-threatening, disorder. Ulcer symptoms are a burning or aching pain just below the breast bone in the upper belly. This frequently feels "hot" or "gnawing" and can go straight through the back. These are the usual, but not the only, symptoms that accompany the condition of excess acid. If you have these symptoms, they are much more likely to be caused by an excess of acid than ulcer disease. See your doctor if you are not sure. A bacteria called H. pylori may be present and need to be treated in most ulcer patients. If positive, you will likely require Prilosec + Flagyl + antibiotics + Pepto Bismol.
Treatment of excess acid is fairly easy.
- If you are a smoker, stop completely.
- Limit alcohol (whiskey, wine or beer) and omit coffee. Try 1-2 tea bags of "One World English Breakfast" tea, and you won't need the coffee. Abstain if you can from even decaf coffee. Excesses of the above can even irritate the stomach of even normal people.
- Interestingly, being overweight makes these symptoms worse.
The treatment of ulcers is also fairly simple.
- During the early period, one should completely stop smoking, aspirin, APC'S, Excedrin, colas, and coffee - switch to Inka or Raja's Cup if you wish to have coffee-like drink, alcoholic intake (whiskey, wine and beer), and lose weight.
- It is not important to avoid any spices, other foods or beverages, unless they specifically upset your stomach. It is your ulcer and your pain.
You will make yourself feel better if you follow the above directions. It is your choice. If the doctor so directs you, good antacids are activated charcoal caps, DGL and Sweetish Bitters made by Gaia as well as Zantac 75 1-2 twice a day (Pepcid or Tagament are about the same as Zantac), and Pepto-Bismol. Baking soda (soda bicarbonate) is to be avoided as this can cause kidney stones.
If you have excess acid or a known ulcer, you should immediately call your doctor if you vomit blood or have a black, sticky bowel movement and are not being treated with iron, charcoal, or Pepto-Bismol, which can also cause black, but not sticky, stools. Profound increase or unusual persistence of your pain should likewise lead you to call your doctor.
H. Robert Silverstein, MD