7 common habits that exposes you to stomach ulcers

Find out “7 common habits that exposes you to stomach ulcers” Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are sores that develop on the lining of the stomach. While the primary cause of stomach ulcers is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain habits and lifestyle factors can contribute to their development or aggravate existing ulcers. Here are 7 common habits that may expose you to stomach ulcers:

1. Smoking

Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of stomach ulcers. Smoking can interfere with the protective lining of the stomach and may also delay the healing process of existing ulcers. Smoking also raises the risk for infection from Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium commonly found in ulcers. Smoking adversely affects the gastroduodenal mucosal protective mechanisms and increases the risk of H. pylori infection. Cigarette smoking allows the reflux of harmful duodenal contents back into the stomach, and it reduces blood flow, prostaglandin production, epithelial cell proliferation, and formation of blood vessels in the tissue, which are important for ulcer formation and healing [1].

2. Excessive alcohol consumption

Alcohol can irritate and weaken the stomach lining, causing inflammation, which is called gastritis. Gastritis can also be caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which is the primary cause of stomach ulcers. Heavy alcohol consumption can also interfere with the healing process of existing ulcers. Drinking alcohol may make the symptoms of stomach ulcers worse, so it is advisable to avoid alcohol if you have an ulcer. While the evidence is mixed, limiting alcohol use may reduce the chances of developing ulcers [2]. Next read : What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Alcohol Every Day

3. Stress

Stress does not directly cause stomach ulcers, but it can exacerbate existing conditions. Chronic stress may lead to changes in behavior, such as unhealthy eating habits, increased alcohol and tobacco use, and overuse of painkillers, which can contribute to ulcer development. Additionally, the body’s natural response to stress increases stomach acid, which is a factor in ulcer formation. Stress can also weaken the immune system and slow down the body’s ability to fight infections, making individuals more prone to developing ulcers. While stress may not be the main cause of ulcers, it can impact the body’s healing process and may play a role in the development and worsening of ulcers [3]. Next read: 7 Ways to De-Stress in 5 Minutes or Less

4. Excessive caffeine intake

The relationship between excessive caffeine intake and stomach ulcers is not fully established. While some earlier studies suggested a potential association between caffeine and the risk of ulcers, more recent research, including a Japanese cross-sectional study and a meta-analysis, has not found a significant association between coffee consumption (which contains caffeine) and the risk of gastric or duodenal ulcers. Caffeine, present in coffee and other drinks, stimulates the gastric secretion of components such as gastrin and hydrochloric acid, which may theoretically aggravate stomach ulcers. However, the evidence regarding the direct impact of caffeine on the development of stomach ulcers is inconclusive [4]. Next read : How Much Caffeine Is Too Much To Consume?

5. Overeating

Overeating can contribute to stomach ulcers by putting excessive pressure on the stomach, leading to increased acid production, which can irritate the stomach lining and contribute to ulcer development. Additionally, overeating can increase the risk of acid reflux, which, when chronic, can lead to inflammation in the esophagus and potentially increase the risk of ulcers. Distension of the stomach due to overeating can also cause bloating and indigestion. Certain foods that are harder to digest, such as those belonging to the FODMAPs group, can further exacerbate the discomfort caused by overeating. Therefore, it is important to avoid overeating and to be mindful of food choices to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers [5]. Next read One Specific Exercise Can Stop You From Overeating, Science Says

6. Ignoring symptoms of ulcers

Ignoring symptoms of ulcers can contribute to stomach ulcers by allowing the condition to worsen. Ulcers can be initially missed or their symptoms may be considered minor, leading individuals to ignore or dismiss them. However, prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial, as untreated ulcers can lead to complications such as bleeding, perforation, or obstruction. Ignoring symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, or heartburn and not seeking medical attention can cause ulcers to worsen. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of the signs and seek medical advice if you experience symptoms of ulcers to prevent complications [6]

7. Overuse of over-the-counter painkillers

Overuse of over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, can contribute to stomach ulcers in several ways:

  • Irritation of the stomach lining: NSAIDs can cause ulcers by interfering with the stomach’s ability to protect itself from gastric acids, leading to damage of the stomach lining.
  • Increased stomach acid production: NSAIDs can cause the stomach to produce more acid, which can irritate and thin the stomach lining, making it more susceptible to ulcers.
  • Increased risk of H. pylori infection: NSAIDs can increase the risk of infection from Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium commonly found in ulcers.
  • Delayed healing: NSAIDs can delay the healing process of existing ulcers, making them more likely to worsen or become complicated [7].

To reduce the risk of stomach ulcers, it is essential to use NSAIDs responsibly, follow the recommended dosage instructions, and consult a healthcare professional for alternative pain relief options if needed. Additionally, it is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ulcers and seek medical advice if you suspect you have one.

Overall, to fight against ulcer symptoms is to adopting a healthy lifestyle, including quitting smoking, reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, managing stress, and maintaining a balanced diet, can help prevent and treat stomach ulcers. Next read: Ulcer Can Be Painful: Symptoms You Should Never Ignore And How to Deal With It

References

  1. Smoking: Mayo Clinic. (2023, October 26). Peptic ulcers. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peptic-ulcer/symptoms-causes/syc-20354223
  2. Drinking too much alcohol: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2020, December 31). Health effects of alcohol misuse. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
  3. Chronic stress: American Psychological Association. (2020, August). Stress and health. https://www.apa.org/topics/stress
  4. Caffeine intake: Effects of Coffee on the Gastro-Intestinal Tract: A Narrative Review and Literature Update. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8778943/
  5. Overeating: National Institutes of Health. (2022, September 15). Overweight and obesity. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/about-niddk/research-areas/obesity
  6. Ignoring symptoms of ulcers: 5 Warning Signs of Ulcers. https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2023/stomach-ulcer-symptoms-causes-treatments.htm
  7. Everyday Pain Relief: Ulcers. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/everyday-pain-relief-ulcers

Note: This article is written based on scientific evidence found by the soundhealthandlastingwealth.com team. Sources are duly referenced.

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