The way of how stomach ulcer is treated depends on a number of factors. The main ones are the cause and severity of the disease. Early diagnosis is important to treat the disease more effectively and prevent its serious complications. It usually will go away without leaving serious problems – though in a few cases it may fail to heal.
Prognosis and outlook
With prompt treatment, stomach ulcer will heal within several weeks (for more information about how long it takes to heal completely, see here).
But be careful, it may return months or years afterward if you don’t reduce your risk of having the recurrence such as cigarette smoking and overuse of painkillers (especially NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). And drink alcohol in moderation (limit it to 2 drinks a day, or no more than 1 drink a day for women), because alcohol can hurt your stomach lining and contribute to ulcers!
Also, protect yourself from H-pylori infection. The way of how H-pylori bacterium spreads is not fully understood. But it’s always worth a try to maintain personal hygiene such as frequently washing your hands (especially after going to the toilet) and cook your foods properly! For examples – poultry, pork, burgers, kebabs, offal, and sausages must be cooked thoroughly before eating.
Stomach ulcer complications are relatively rare. But if they occur, some could be serious or even fatal (life threatening).
When an ulcer forms at the site of a blood vessel, it may bleed and cause serious internal bleeding. The bleeding could occur rapidly (severe) or slowly (chronic, long-term bleeding). Acute, severe bleeding can cause vomiting blood and passing stools with blood. Long-term bleeding symptoms include breathlessness, heart palpitations, fatigue, and pale skin. Seek immediate medical help if you have any of these symptoms!
Internal gastric outlet obstruction
Sometimes ulcers get scarred or inflamed, which could be severe enough to obstruct /block the normal passage of food through your stomach and digestive system. As a result you have persistent bloating, feeling full easily even though with a small meal, or frequently vomiting undigested foods.
Over time, advanced stomach ulcer may get worse and eat a hole through the stomach wall, causing perforation (a condition in which the stomach lining splitting open). This put you at high risk of serious internal infection.
The infection can spread into the circulation (bloodstream) and other organs, causing multiple organ failure. The most common symptom of this complication is a sudden abdominal pain that steadily worsens.
How do you get rid of stomach ulcer?
There are a number of treatment options to treat the disease. The common ones are as follows:
- If your ulcer is caused by H-pylori infection, your doctor will usually prescribe at least two types of antibiotics to heal the infection more effectively.
- Medications to reduce /block stomach acid and protect your stomach lining – such as proton pump inhibitors, histamine H-2 acid blockers, and cytoprotective agents. The open sore in the stomach lining can get worse or take longer to heal if your stomach acid level is higher than normal.
- If your ulcer is triggered by overuse of NSAIDs, you need to use caution with them. It’s much better to avoid them (if possible) or use them at lowest dose possible. If necessary, ask your doctor for alternative pain killer that is safe for your stomach lining.
A few adjustments in diet and lifestyle can help, too. See also, stomach ulcer do’s and don’ts!
Surgery is rarely used. Typically, it’s only suggested if serious complications of the disease (such as perforation) have occurred.
Refractory stomach ulcers
A combination of treatment options mentioned above is often successful, resulting in complete healing. But if the open sore doesn’t heal after treatment, you may have a condition called refractory ulcer.
Ulcers that don’t go away with treatment can be caused by a number of reasons. Some of the most possible ones include:
- If treatment doesn’t work properly or you don’t take them as directed. For example, if you don’t take the entire course of the antibiotics (you stop taking them early), you may have antibiotic resistance and your H-pylori infection doesn’t heal.
- During treatment, you continue regularly taking NSAIDs or medications containing NSAID ingredients.
- If you’re a smoker and you continue smoking. It’s so recommended to stop smoking at least until the ulcer is completely cured.
- Less often, refractory ulcers might be caused by an infectious cause other than H-pylori, stomach cancer, or Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (a disorder that causes extreme stomach acid production).