Stomach ulcers are commonly found in both men and women. Go through this article for some information about the causes of this medical condition.
Stomach ulcers are defined as sores that develop on the inner wall of the lower esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. While esophageal ulcers are rare, those of the stomach and duodenum are quite common. Ulcers that develop on the inner wall of the stomach are called gastric ulcers, whereas those on the duodenal wall are called duodenal ulcers. It has been noted that duodenal ulcers are the most common form of stomach ulcers (otherwise known as peptic ulcers). It is believed that duodenal ulcers are more common in men, as compared to women, who are said to have a higher risk of developing gastric ulcers. Now, these observations are rubbished on the ground, that both genders are equally prone to stomach ulcers, irrespective of the location.
Earlier, it was thought that regular intake of spicy food, and factors, like stress, play a vital role in causing ulcers. Now, helicobacter pylori infection is said to be the most common cause for stomach ulcers in both men and women.
The inner surfaces of the stomach and duodenum are protected with a mucosal lining. This lining protects these inner walls from the strong digestive juices. Hence, there is a balance between the production of acids and the amount of mucus required by the protective lining. This balance can be disturbed by various factors, and if such imbalance causes damage to the protective lining, ulcers may develop. It is these factors that are the actual causes of stomach ulcers in women and men. The following are some of these factors.
- As mentioned above, helicobacter pylori infection has been identified as the primary cause for stomach ulcers. These bacteria can bore through the protective lining, and establish colonies on the walls of the stomach and duodenum. They secrete urease that neutralizes hydrochloric acid. This triggers production of excess acid that leads to erosion of the protective lining, thereby causing ulcers.
- Stomach ulcers in women can also be caused by regular use of drugs, like NSAIDs. These drugs disturb the natural balance between acid production and mucus producing mechanisms. This leads to erosion of the protective layer and the resultant ulcer. Even the blood flow to the stomach and duodenum can be disturbed by these drugs, thereby preventing chances of repair of the damaged cells.
- These are the most common causes of stomach ulcers. There are certain other factors that may contribute to the formation of ulcers. Such factors include stress, regular smoking, excess alcohol consumption, food allergies, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, and a diet that lacks fiber. In some rare cases, stomach ulcers (especially gastric ones) may be caused by cancer.
Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of stomach ulcer in women as well as men. The pain can be gnawing, sharp, and episodic in nature. In case of duodenal ulcers, the pain is said to be experienced three to four hours after the meal, but gastric ulcer pain usually develops right after the meal. Other symptoms include nausea, heartburn, indigestion, belching and weakness. The symptoms may also vary with the severity of the condition. In case of bleeding ulcers, the affected person may vomit like coffee grounds or may have tarry stools. Severe ulcers may cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, decreased urine output, and even shock.
The treatment is decided according to the underlying cause, severity of the condition, and age and health condition of the patient. Nowadays, medication is sufficient for getting rid of stomach ulcers. They include drugs, like antibiotics (in case of bacterial infection), acid suppressants, and proton pump inhibitors. Some of the bleeding ulcers may require endotherapy. In some rare cases, where all other modes of treatment fail, surgery is recommended. Even perforated ulcers may require surgical procedures, like vagotomy (severance of vagus nerve to reduce acid production), antrectomy (removal of the lower part of the stomach), or pyloroplasty (widening the passage from the stomach to the small intestine).
To conclude, causes of stomach ulcers in women and men are the same, and they are equally prone to this condition. Some lifestyle changes may help to prevent stomach ulcers. Adopting a high-fiber diet and a good exercise regimen, drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, avoid smoking and excess alcohol consumption, and resorting to some stress relief techniques; are some of the measures that can be taken to prevent such ulcers. If you develop symptoms of stomach ulcers, get the condition diagnosed and treated at the earliest, to avoid complications.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.