Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Medication Only Medicates

RIP Washington D.C. Bike Messenger "Mark" (((March 23))). After a 2 day warning from his doctor he passed of stomach ulcers. Here is some info I gathered for those that are feeling ill inside and don't know why.

Stomach ulcers are sores that form in the lining of the stomach (see figure). They may vary in size from a small sore to a deep cavity 1 to 2 inches wide, surrounded by an inflamed area, and are sometimes called ulcer craters.

Stomach ulcers and ulcers that form in the esophagus and in the lining of the duodenum the upper part of the small intestine) are called peptic ulcers because they need acid and the enzyme pepsin to form. Duodenal ulcers are the most common type, tend to be smaller than stomach ulcers, and heal more quickly. Much of what can be said about the cause, diagnosis, treatment, and future outlook for duodenal ulcers is also true for stomach ulcers. However, since stomach ulcers present both doctors and patients with unique problems, this fact sheet focuses on ulcers that develop in the stomach lining, also called gastric ulcers.

Who Is at Risk for Stomach Ulcers?

Twenty percent of the 4 million Americans with ulcers have stomach ulcers. People most at risk are those who smoke, middle-age and older men, and chronic users of alcohol, anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

What Is the Stomach's Role in Digestion?

The stomach is, essentially, a bag of muscle and other tissue located near the center of the abdomen just below the ribcage. When food is swallowed, it travels into the stomach through the esophagus, the long tube that passes from the mouth to the stomach.

While in the stomach, food is crushed and mixed by the forceful contractions of the stomach muscle. The food is mixed with, and partially digested by, acid and pepsin. The presence of acid and pepsin in the stomach is normal, and in most people they do not cause problems. In some people, however, these powerful substances are responsible for forming ulcers.

What Causes Stomach Ulcers?

Most people who develop duodenal ulcers produce more than the usual amount of stomach acid. Unlike duodenal ulcers, however, most stomach ulcers are not caused by the production of too much acid, though the presence of some acid is necessary for the ulcer to form.

Scientists suspect that the resistance of the stomach lining to acid and pepsin is lowered in those people who develop stomach ulcers and that even normal, or less than normal, amounts of these two substances can lead to the formation of an ulcer. It is thought that the lower resistance of the stomach lining allows the acid and pepsin to break down the stomach lining in much the same way that these juices digest food.

What Causes the Stomach Lining To Break Down?

How or why the resistance of the stomach lining is lowered is still not known. However, it is likely that a combination of environmental and genetic factors is responsible.

Researchers believe that certain drugs (including alcohol), chemicals, smoking, and food ingredients can damage the stomach lining. This damage, in turn, lowers the resistance of the stomach lining to acid and pepsin. Substances that are normally present in the intestine and sometimes flow back into the stomach in large amounts also can damage the stomach lining, as well as harmful bacteria, which are normally killed by the acid content of the stomach.

Also, the regular use of aspirin and other related drugs used to treat arthritis such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has been shown to be an important factor in stomach ulcer development. Because aspirin is an ingredient in many over-the-counter drugs, you may wish to purchase a pain reliever or other preparation that does not contain aspirin. Check with your doctor or your pharmacist for the names of suitable products.

There is mounting evidence that an S-shaped bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, (previously called Campylobacter pylori) may be a factor in the development of stomach ulcers. H. pylori live in the mucous lining of the stomach near the surface cells and may go undetected for years. Some researchers believe that irritation to the stomach caused by the bacteria may weaken the lining, making it more susceptible to damage by acid and resulting in the formation of ulcers.

However, the findings are still inconclusive that H. pylori is a cause of stomach ulcers, which seem to be caused by multiple factors under study by researchers.

Do Stomach Ulcers Run in Families?

Heredity plays a role in the development of some ulcers, although the majority of people with stomach ulcers do not have a family history of this type of ulcer. However, if a member of a family develops a stomach ulcer, it is more likely that another close family member also will develop one. The same is true of duodenal ulcers.

What Are Stomach Ulcer Symptoms?

Stomach ulcers may or may not cause any symptoms. Some stomach ulcers are found by chance during an upper gastrointestinal x-ray examination performed for some other reason. However, when symptoms do occur, the most common one is pain in the upper abdomen, which may occur after eating or during the middle of the night and may be partially or completely relieved by eating and juicing green leafy vegetables like Broccoli, red cabbage, and cauliflower and especially sprouts. Be well.

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