How Long Should it Take to Heal Stomach Ulcers?
Stomach ulcer healing time depends on several factors including the cause of the ulcer, obtaining appropriate treatment, maintaining a proper diet that is conducive to healing, and avoiding the things that aggravate the lining of the stomach. With appropriate treatment from both a medication and the patient, stomach ulcers usually heal within three months.
Depending on the severity of the sore (size and depth), it can take several months to completely heal a stomach ulcer if treatment is successful. Successful treatment includes the prevention of stomach ulcers becoming worse, too. This is why a healing environment in the stomach is a necessary component of a fast recovery from the condition.
How stomach ulcers heal is related to their cause. Stomach ulcers may be caused by a number of things, including:
- H. pylori, bacteria that exists in the stomachs of nearly half of the world’s population
- Eating foods that cause too much acid production or degradation of the mucous lining in the stomach
- Stress and anxiety because the digestive system is very connected to the nervous system
- NSAID pain relievers that are acidic and eat away the protective mucous lining in the stomach
Healing Times Based on Cause and Treatment
For those who suffer stomach ulcers as a result of h. pylori, a course of antibiotics for a period of two weeks is often the standard time for ridding the body of the bacteria. Following this period, and during the first two weeks, your doctor may prescribe other acid reducing medications.
A PPI (proton pump inhibitor) that prevents acid from being pumped into the stomach and aggravating the stomach ulcer may be necessary for a period of a few months, allowing ample healing time. You may also be prescribed an H2 blocker that prevents the production of stomach acids for up to two months following the completion of antibiotics.
Stomach ulcer caused by NSAIDs pain medications are often treated with PPIs as well. They may be taken over a period of several months to assist in the healing process. However, complete healing requires that NSAIDs be eliminated in the course of treatment and this is not always an appropriate option; especially in individuals who take aspirin to reduce the risk of heart illnesses and complications.
In general, stomach ulcers caused by emotional stress and poor diet can be self healing if the problems are eliminated. However, in circumstance where prolonged stress and poor diet have caused severe stomach ulcers treatment may include a PPI or H2 blocker. The amount of time it takes a person to heal from stress induced stomach ulcers really depends on that person eliminating stress from their routine as quickly as possible and following the healing environment tips below.
If all attempts to treat a stomach ulcer fail and an appropriate length of time has been provided for healing, surgery may be an option to promote healing in a shorter amount of time. This is also an option for those who can’t discontinue the cause, such as people who take aspirin and other NSAIDs to control potentially life-threatening diseases.
There is a type of stomach ulcer that returns even after treatment called a refractory ulcer. Refractory ulcers are rare in modern medicine and usually refuse to heal because of another condition.
Once such condition is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome – a condition in which a hormone in the pancreas or small intestine causes there to be a high level of gastrin in the blood stream. It is a condition caused by gastrinomas (tumors) in the pancreases or intestines that must be treated.
Though rare, this condition is usually successfully treated with PPIs but occasionally requires surgical removal of the tumors.
Tips for Creating a Healing Environment for Stomach Ulcers
Many stomach ulcer sufferers report that they are awoken by pain during the night because this is when the stomach produces the most acid. Nighttime might be the most important time to stay diligent in the healing process of stomach ulcers since this is a time of increased gastric activity. Taking actions to soothe stomach ulcers such as a small snack to give the acid “something to do” and avoiding large meals a few hours before bed time can help alleviate nighttime upsets.
Chewing antacids at bedtime may help to quell the activity of stomach acid during sleep as well, but they are not recommended for long-term or over use. These may interfere with H pylori treatment though and may prolong your H pylori symptoms.
Though it is not touted in modern medicine as a healing agent for stomach ulcers, S-Methylmethionine found in cabbage juice has been reported to produce rapid healing of stomach ulcers as far back as 1949. “Vitamin U” as it was formerly known, could assist in expediting the healing time of stomach ulcers.
Exercise is a well-known stress buster that can stimulate the immune system and other healing processes in the body. Just be aware that exercise after eating may aggravate some symptoms, so be mindful of the time you choose to be active.
REST is an important component in healing, especially if an h. pylori infection is involved. Antibiotics can make you feel fatigue, as well. Respond to your body’s need for rest if you feel tired.
If you are prescribed medication, be sure to take all of it and take it as scheduled. Antibiotics must be accepted on a regular schedule to be effective. PPIs and H2 blockers don’t work to stop acid production if they aren’t taken on a regular basis.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco use. Tobacco causes acid production and alcohol counteracts the effect of antibiotics in the immune system.