Over the Counter Treatment for Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are known to be associated with two primary causes: bacteria that live in up to half of the world’s human population and NSAID pain relievers. These agents can cause breaks in the stomach’s natural lining which leads to stomach ulcer symptoms.
Stomach ulcers generally develop in the stomach and the duodenum, the area directly below the stomach where a sphincter muscle controls the flow of food from the stomach to the intestines. Ulcers can be painful and irritating, especially as they grow to larger sizes. Stomach acids wash over the stomach ulcers and make them become larger and inflamed, leading to even more pain.
The H pylori bacteria can cause an infection in the stomach that leaves “holes” or “gaps” in the protective lining that normally prevents stomach acids from damaging the inside of the organ. To make matters worse, the H pylori bacteria cause the stomach to swell and produce more acids to irritate the ulcers.
Another common cause for the deterioration of this protective lining and stomach ulcers is pain relievers. Common over the counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can eat away the lining and cause holes to form. This is problematic for people that are dependent on NSAIDs for other conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, and heart patients who need to be on a strict aspirin regiment.
Stomach ulcers require medical attention when they become painful and before they cause permanent damage to the organ through scarring and cell mutation. There are no over the counter treatments available that are strictly sold for the purpose of treating a stomach ulcer. This is largely due to the cause of ulcers. H pylori infections must be treated with antibiotics and acid reducers.
NSAID triggered ulcers can benefit from acid reducing medications, but these medications must be carefully selected so they do not interfere with other medications. In particular, a lot of stomach-coating medications may interfere with both antibiotics and acid reducers that your doctor may prescribe, so be sure to disclose any OTC meds you might be taking so your doctor can double check this.
How Stomach Ulcers Are Diagnosed and Treated
Diagnosing a stomach ulcer requires an endoscopic procedure performed by a medical specialist. The symptoms of a stomach ulcer can be very general and include gnawing stomach pains, indigestion, bloating, and nausea. Only by looking into the gastric system with a camera can a doctor determine the exact cause of symptoms.
A correct diagnosis is important when treating stomach ulcers because some treatments can make matters worse. However, in cases of gastric symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion, and bloating, doctors may first try to treat the symptoms with an acid reducer while waiting on examination results. Part of proper diagnosis includes an H pylori bacteria test, to find out if antibiotics will be required during treatment.
When stomach ulcers are diagnosed based on an H pylori infection, doctors will often use a triple-pronged approach to rid the body of the bacterial infection, reduce stomach acids, and prevent stomach acids from entering into the stomach until the ulcers have had a chance to heal. Because a combination therapy is necessary in treating this condition, there aren’t any good over the counter treatments for stomach ulcers.
A doctor may prescribe up to two antibiotics along use a proton-pump inhibitor or an H2 antagonist\blocker (or both). H2 blockers\antagonists and proton-pump inhibitors are available in over the counter, non-prescription strength version that can significantly reduce stomach acids. However, these medications may interfere with antibiotics or other medications. A doctor should determine the best product for an individual.