Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be shot in the gut? The pain of that fast moving metal bullet ripping up your skin first, digging deep into your fascia before destroying the protective coat surrounding a precious organ, the stomach. One pain that possibly measures up to this is the gnawing pain of peptic ulcer. It is a pain that doesn’t feel like pain itself. It’s like being shot at, only this time, no external object causes the pain but your body being the villain.
What is Peptic Ulcer
Peptic ulcer is an open sore that develops in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. It could be Gastric peptic ulcer that occurs on the inside of the stomach or Duodenal Ulcers that occurs on the inside of the upper portion of the small intestine, duodenum.
The prevalence of peptic ulcer is rather disturbing, as one in ten individuals suffers from it. The old wives tale on the ailment does not help matters at all. If ignorance on the subject elevates the level at which it is contracted then knowledge about it will definitely put to light ways to curb its spread.
Common Myths about Peptic Ulcer
Giddy up! This is a classic myth debunking session. Some of the myths about Peptic Ulcer that you’ve probably heard include:
Myth 1: Failing to eat on time is the main cause of peptic ulcer
You’ve probably heard this statement countless times. I’d be your Sherlock Holmes on this one. If eating habits were the main causes of ulcer, how come people who fast for as long as 21days don’t all get diagnosed with Ulcer.
What about obese individuals who have problem controlling their satiety levels and how much they eat, how come some of them still suffer from ulcer.
The Truth is, Peptic Ulcer is mainly caused by
● A bacterial Infection by the bacterium, helicobacter pylori
● Regular Use of NSAIDs (Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, etc
Surprisingly, both causes are components of common happenings we tend to ignore and in some cases, disregard.
For Helicobacter pylori, research shows that the bacterium is spread through contaminated food and water, a fecal-oral contamination but the most obscure thing is that it can also be actively spread through saliva.
This begs the following questions;
● Does kissing not involve an exchange of Saliva?
● Does this mean that kissing is not as harmless as it seems?
I would leave that to you to answer.
Why are NSAIDs bad for you?
The term NSAIDs may come off as strange to you but I’m sure you’ve heard of Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Yes, Ibuprofen, the normal drug used for treating pain, fever and inflammation. You might have even taken these drugs on several occasions. Aren’t they just the super hero disease-punching drugs? Right?
There is no doubt that these drugs have helped humanity countless times from the pangs of disease-mediated pain and what not. But maybe you shouldn’t take these drugs as often as you do. Not every slight headache or body pain requires you to take drugs.
You may wonder how the helicobacter pylori bacterium and these NSAIDS actually lead to an ailment as severe as ulcer.
The thing is, these agents weaken and destroy the protective lining surrounding your stomach and thus, when hydrochloric acid and other digestive juices necessary for digestion are secreted, it attacks the lining and creates open sores. These agents may also cause an increase in the acid secretion rate in the gastrointestinal system.
Myth 2: Eating a lot will cure ulcer
There’s no doubt that eating on time is one of the first pieces of advice every dietician will give an ulcer patient but there’s no truth in the concept of maxing out your stomach sores with food actually cures the ulcer. Such individual may probably just end up being a foodie still suffering from ulcer.
Myth 3: Pepper Causes Ulcer
It is widely known that pepper is one of those food substances an ulcer patient should avoid because of its irritating effect on the open sores but it is a misconception that pepper actually causes ulcer.
Pepper soup lovers can now rejoice.
Myth 4: Natural herbs as a cure work better than artificial medicines
Reports have shown that some individuals had natural products like Honey, Aloe Vera, garlic etc cure their ulcer. Of course, body systems are different but it doesn’t put down the wonders of modern medicine.
Many have recurrent cases of ulcer because sometimes, these seemingly active natural cures with no prescription from a learned pharmacist do not completely rid the system of its causative agent but rather, just helps to treat the sores.
But if the sores close up and the causative agent remains, is work done not zero?
There are slight differences in treatment procedures depending on the main cause and how active the spread is.
Myth 5: Ulcer has no cure
Convincing an individual who has struggled with peptic ulcer for almost 10 years that there is a real cure for ulcer is quite analogous to bathing a cat. But fortunately, this myth is strongly opposed owing to the prevalence of modern medicine and even some thoroughly researched natural products.
There are different scientifically backed up natural ulcer remedies such as Licorice- a spice commonly known as Banga Stick or Oburunbebe stick amongst the natives of Nigeria, its deglycyrrhizinated form has proven suitable for Acid reflux. Other natural remedies may include Flavonoids that occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. These natural remedies may induce healing effects on developing ulcer by either increasing stomach mucus or activating acid reflux.
For orthodox medicine, the development of H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors allow for most ulcers to be completely healed with medication. But before these medications work effectively, the cause of the ulcer must first be removed. Severe cases of ulcer with bleeding complications may require surgery.
Going down with ulcer may prove really difficult and stressful for a young and vibrant person. Having to stick to a particular kind of diet, bear some torturous level of pain and live most of your days on drugs are not activities to go through but truly all hope is not lost. Where there’s life, there’s surely a way.
Which of these myths about peptic ulcer did you grow up to believe? What other myths about peptic ulcer do you know? Kindly share
Writer: Ikharo Favour
Bayero University Kano, Kano State, Nigeria