Myths about stomach ulcers. Can an ulcer be cured with vodka?
The symptoms of an ulcer are known to all – severe abdominal pain, stool disturbances, nausea, weakness and vomiting. The cause of such symptoms is damage to the gastric mucosa, as a result of which it cannot withstand the destructive effects of hydrochloric acid, bile and pepsin. An ulcer usually develops imperceptibly, and if untreated, it can capture the deep muscle tissue of the stomach and even lead to the formation of a through hole in its wall. Today, the ulcer is shrouded in a considerable number of myths and conjectures, which often lead to a delay in the start of treatment, a worsening of the situation and the emergence of serious health problems. Here are the most popular ulcer myths: Myth 1. An ulcer is inherited. It is believed that an ulcer most often develops in people with a certain blood group and Rh factor. To prove this theory, examples are usually given when a person suffering from an ulcer has a father, mother or other close relatives who also suffered from peptic ulcer disease. Indeed, there may be some genetic predisposition to the development of gastric ulcer, but this does not mean that if a person suffers from an ulcer, then it will then be found in his children. Most often people at risk of stomach ulcers are exposed to constant stress, have bad habits (smoking and alcohol abuse), do not follow the rules of a healthy diet and take medications that thin the blood and increase the acidity of the stomach. For example, acetylsalicylic acid or aspirin, getting into an empty stomach, destroys its mucous membrane, so you need to take aspirin only after a meal. Myth 2. Gastritis is followed by an ulcer. In fact, a stomach ulcer is an independent disease; it can develop as a complication of gastritis or without it. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with gastritis, then you should not be afraid that after a few years you may be diagnosed with an ulcer. Myth 3. An ulcer is the lot of those who eat dry food. Since childhood, we have all heard advices like “Eat soup, otherwise you will get an ulcer”, “If you eat only sandwiches, an ulcer will appear.” In fact, even if a person dines every day without soup, this will not cause an ulcer if he has a healthy stomach. However, if a person eats a lot of fatty, spicy and smoked food every day, then the digestive system will not cope with its digestion and will increase the production of enzymes that are “provocateurs” of the development of peptic ulcer in the presence of predisposing factors. This leads to the appearance of erosion in the mucous membrane. Food should be balanced and healthy, without harmful foods. You can eat sandwiches, but not all the time and not with sausage. Myth 4. An ulcer can be contracted. In 1983, two Australian scientists Marshall and Warren made the first statement that a microbe called Helicobacter pylori was the main cause of stomach ulcers, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2005. Scientists announced that Helicobacter pylori enters the human body from the external environment through the oral-fecal route of infection, but the oral-oral route of infection is also not excluded. Therefore, you can become infected with an ulcer through saliva from person to person, which is the reason for the origin of the myth that the ulcer is contagious. However, despite the fact that infection plays a major role in the development of ulcers, not everyone becomes ulcers. According to statistics, 70% of the world’s inhabitants are infected with Helicobacter pylori, and only 15% of the population develop an ulcer. This means that the problem is not in the transmission of Helicobacter, but in the availability of conditions for its reproduction. The worse the condition of the gastric mucosa, the faster the germs will contribute to the appearance of ulcers. Myth 5. An ulcer can be treated with baking soda. Traditional healers, with the appearance of severe pain in the abdomen, patients with an ulcer recommend drinking a glass of water, adding a pinch of soda to it. Soda water really dilutes the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and the attack of the disease goes away, but soda cannot cure an ulcer. Even at the beginning of the last century, in the treatment of ulcers, the principle was adhered to: no acid, no ulcer. Only a doctor should choose a treatment regimen for an ulcer. And, of course, today the principle of ulcer treatment should already sound not only “no acid – no ulcer” but also “no Helicobacter – no ulcer”. Therefore, ulcer treatment now includes both antisecretory and antimicrobial therapy. Myth 6. An ulcer can be detected by a blood test, it is not necessary to swallow the probe. A blood test is carried out to identify the bacteria Helicobacter pylori; based on its results, an ulcer cannot be diagnosed. Endoscopic examination will have to be done in order to diagnose, establish the location of the ulcer, its size and take a piece of mucous membrane for biopsy. There is no need to be afraid of this procedure, now no one “swallows the gut”. Modern endoscopes-TV cameras are quite miniature and are inserted under local anesthesia, and this procedure takes only a few minutes. Myth 7. Sooner or later you will have to do an operation. Today the ulcer is “sutured” only in especially advanced cases, when there is already bleeding and there is a danger of perforation. In other cases, drug treatment is practiced, aimed at combating the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and suppressing the secretion of gastric acid. With proper treatment of ulcers, scarring occurs within a month. Myth 8. An ulcer can be cured with vodka. Doctors still know only cases when vodka brought to an ulcer, and not vice versa. At the same time, men who are not indifferent to alcohol often recommend that ulcers drink a glass of vodka on an empty stomach so that everything inside is “sterilized and healed”. In fact, vodka only irritates the stomach lining, and does not help cure the ulcer. During the treatment of ulcers, it is necessary to give up alcohol in general and even beer – they increase the acidity of gastric juice and aggravate the course of peptic ulcer disease.