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5 Ways To Prevent Ulcers Of The Intestinal Tract.
At some time or the other, as much as 1 in 10 persons will experience a peptic ulcer in their lifetime. But do you know what a peptic ulcer looks (or more correctly, feels) like?
A peptic ulcer, in the simplest terms, can be viewed as an open sore, which has developed along the lining of the digestive tract, up to the point of the small intestine. Ulcers do occur in the large intestines as well, but they are not peptic in nature.
These sores are generally the result of traumatic injury along the lining of the walls in the digestive tract, inflammatory conditions (such as that caused by the stomach infection with Pylori bacteria) or because of erosion via strong gastric acid.
One thing is common in most cases – pain and heartburn, at least when the ulcer gets bad enough. Initially, a small ulcer may not cause any noticeable kind of pain, but left untreated, it quickly escalates into a firefight in your gut. The pain can be quite debilitating and intense, so it is in your best interest to do everything possible to avoid getting an ulcer.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to REDUCE your chances of ever developing an ulcer- absolute prevention isn’t guaranteed, but hey, a reduction of 50% or more likelihood isn’t bad either!
1. Keep Your Immune System Strong.
The debilitating stomach infection responsible for peptic ulceration, the Pylori bacteria, resides normally in the stomach and intestines, and opportunistically looks for periods when your immune system may be weaker than normal to attack.
Scenarios such as the recovery period following an illness, or after treatment with antibiotics or chemotherapy, make your body especially prone to attack by a myriad of bacteria and viruses, including the Pylori.
2. Limit Your Alcohol Intake.
Excessive alcohol consumption has two very negative effects on stomach and intestinal health. Firstly, excessive alcohol intake has a pro-inflammatory effect on the walls of these digestive organs- making them more prone to erosion by the stomach acid, or easily damaged.
These damaged areas are what typically lead to development of ulcers. Secondly, alcohol relaxes the muscle that prevents the backward flow of stomach contents up the esophagus, causing frequent acid reflux and discomfort, especially when lying down.
Moderate consumption of alcohol is fine. Again, moderation is key.
3. Consume A Stomach Friendly Diet.
The correlation between eating certain foods and the incidence of peptic ulcers is proven, so if you are at risk of ulceration, modify your diet. How do you know when you’re at risk? There are small signs along the way, such as constant indigestion, intolerance of spicy foods, and constant diarrhea to name a few. Limit foods that have high pepper content, dairy products (yes, milk is a double sided sword) and caffeine rich foods and drink to start with. If you determine an additional trigger along the way, add it to your list.
4. Be Knowledgeable Of Your Meds.
Did you know that many pain meds are often the culprits of inducing stomach ulceration? These particular medications, referred to as NSAIDs, inhibit the production of the protective lining in the digestive tract, significantly increasing the likelihood of you experiencing an ulcer. Discuss other options with your doctor, as newer versions are able to relieve pain without increasing your risk of gastric erosion.
5. Quit Smoking.
The negative health effects of smoking are well documented- however, what’s unique is its effect to both induce and prevent healing of ulcers. Smoking increases the likelihood of a Pylori infestation, will restrict blood flow necessary to facilitate healing, and will deactivate the sphincter muscle that prevents acid reflux. The result? A potent cocktail for inducing numerous, painful ulcers not responsive to therapy.
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