Most stomach ulcers are caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), but not all. A stomach ulcer is basically an injury in the stomach lining. Stress, smoking, the chronic use of anti-inflammatory medications, and even genetic predisposition can cause an overproduction of stomach acid, which can lead to the formation of an ulcer.
Helicobacter pylori are spiral shaped bacteria that can be transmitted from person to person through food and water. If stomach acid levels are increased, it produces an ideal environment for the H. pylori bacteria to thrive. Duodenal ulcers, or ulcers in the lower part of the stomach and upper part of the intestine, are four times more common in the United States than gastric ulcers or esophageal ulcers, both located higher up in the stomach or esophagus. Duodenal ulcers can cause a constant “hunger” pain which is often relieved with a meal. Other types of ulcers are generally aggravated by a meal and pain occurs often at night when the patient is lying down.
Up to 90% of duodenal ulcers are found to be caused by the H. pylori bacterium. There are several tests that can be performed to check for the bacteria, but many doctors choose to treat stomach ulcers with acid-suppressing medication for one or two months before they consider treating the bacteria. This is especially true if patients are on long-term anti-inflammatory medications because the medications are considered to most likely be the cause. Unfortunately for these patients, ulcers can worsen during the time that the bacteria is allowed to thrive.
H. pylori bacteria can live in the stomach lining, harmlessly, for your entire life. Once infected, a person will not get rid of the bacteria until properly treated. It is only when stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, or some other trigger causes an increase in stomach acid production that the bacteria causes problems. Once inflammation has set in, it disrupts the mucus barrier and H. pylori is allowed to invade. The more acid your stomach produces, the more active the bacteria becomes.
Treatment for H. pylori is often called “triple therapy”. Two types of antibiotics are given to heal the infection caused by the bacteria, along with an acid-suppressing medication, which helps the antibiotics to work and creates a less acceptable environment for the bacteria. This treatment is generally effective for symptoms after a week, but the bacteria may not be gone. Very few doctors will order a test to see if the bacteria is gone, which means that it could still be there, ready to invade again.
You can help to increase the chances of the triple therapy working by taking supportive vitamins and supplements. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient in creating the collagen and elastin needed to repair and maintain the stomach lining. Almost all patients with ulcers are deficient in vitamin C. This is because acidic vitamin C containing foods are generally avoided by people with ulcers and also because the little vitamin C that they do normally consume is quickly used up by the inflammation in the ulcer. Unless adequate amounts of vitamin C are somehow consumed, repairs to the stomach lining cannot take place and damage will continue to occur.
Mineral salts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are called “mineral ascorbates”. These forms of vitamin C are considerably less acidic and are recommended for patients with gastrointestinal problems. Mineral ascorbates, like sodium ascorbate, are generally found in the form of a vitamin C powder or vitamin C crystals. Talk with your doctor about supplementing along with your stomach ulcer treatment.
About the Author: Phil Le Breton is owner at Wholesale Nutrition. He has a strong interest in helping people achieve greater brain and body health with vitamins and supplements, with an emphasis on vitamin C powder. Wholesale Nutrition has provided the world with the best vitamin C and wholesale vitamins since 1970. Visit http://www.nutri.com to buy high-quality discount vitamins today!
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