Acidity and ulcer disease
Ulcer disease should be treated as a symptom of something else going on. Conventional medicine treats ulcers with acid suppressing drugs. This is sloppy practice but excellent for drug company profits since patients need long term medication. Long term medication can only be justified after a careful search for causes or acceptance that these in some way are unavoidable. The favourite drug to use are proton pump inhibitors. These block normal production of acid to cause hypochlorhydria - this results in increased risk of infections, malabsorption of minerals (and so osteoporosis), maldigestion of foods and so risk of food allergies being switched on etc. See Hypochlorhydria.
Ulcers can be an end result of inflammation in the stomach which can be caused by:
- Infection (gut dysbiosis): commonly with helicobacter pylori
- Over-production of acid: caused by stress, allergies, irregular meals, caffeine, Hypoglycaemia, smoking, excessive alcohol.
- Drugs: especially the aspirin like drugs (so called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories often used for arthritis and steroids) which corrode the lining of the gut.
- Not enough food: (to "mop up" the acid)
- Irritants: very spicy or hot foods
- Allergies: foods and/or chemicals
- Pesticide poisoning
If the symptoms are completely relieved by antacids (such as magnesium trisilicate) then the inflammation is probably due to excessive acid production. If they are not, then one should look for another cause such as allergy, gut dysbiosis (infection) etc.
Indigestion should always be investigated by endoscopy to exclude the possibility of cancer. It is very unusual to have a duodenal ulcer which is malignant. Stomach ulcers should always be biopsied.
Duodenal ulcers are usually diagnosed by endoscopy (barium meals need quite high doses of radiation) and are thought to be caused by excess acid production which may be caused by any of the above factors. Oddly duodenal ulcers are never cancerous.
The gastric ulcer is diagnosed by endoscopy and barium meal, and can be easily seen on the lining of the stomach. All gastric ulcers must be biopsied to exclude cancer.
Benign gastric ulcers are generally thought to be caused by excess acid production which may be caused by any of the above factors.
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