Fact CheckHealth

Yes! You can be a big eater and still have peptic ulcer

Claim: Big eaters cannot have peptic ulcer 

While a poor eating habit is a trigger for peptic ulcer, it is not the cause. But you can be a big eater and still have peptic ulcer. 

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Over time, people have come to believe they can’t have peptic ulcer if they eat very well but is it only people with poor eating habits that have peptic ulcer?

Recently, a colleague of this writer shared her ulcer diagnosis experience where she couldn’t accept she had peptic ulcer because she is a big eater and had always believed ulcer only affects small eaters. If peptic ulcer can affect big eaters what then is the cause of peptic ulcer?

Ulcers are sores that are slow to heal. They can take many forms and can appear inside or outside your body, from the lining of your stomach to the outer layer of your skin.

There are different types of ulcers, some of which are arterial ulcers (leg ulcers), venous ulcers, mouth ulcers, peptic ulcers and genital ulcers. For this article, the focus would be peptic ulcer and its causes. 

Peptic/stomach ulcer

Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine which is why they are sometimes referred to as stomach ulcers.

Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem and one type of ulcer you can’t see. For most people, stomach pain is the first sign. 

There are three types of peptic ulcers: gastric ulcer (this type develops inside the stomach), esophageal ulcers (this develops inside the esophagus), and duodenal ulcers (this develops in the upper section of the small intestines, called the duodenum).

Someone can have both gastric and duodenal ulcers at the same time, which is known as gastroduodenal.

Photo credit; Mayo Clinic. 

Causes of peptic ulcer 

A peptic ulcer can be caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria (H. pylori), the use of some medication or other conditions or factors.

H. Pylori

H. pylori is the most common cause of gastric and duodenal ulcers because it affects the mucus that protects your stomach and small intestine, giving room for stomach acid to damage your stomach lining.

Although it is unclear exactly how this bacterium spreads, researchers believe it’s mostly through unclean food, water, and eating utensils. H. pylori can also spread through saliva.

Many people get this bacterial infection as a child, but it rarely develops into a peptic ulcer while most people don’t see symptoms until they’re older.

Medication

Overuse of over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other anti-inflammatory drugs can lead to ulcers.

Other factors that can contribute to ulcer formation, or are risk factors, especially in someone with H. pylori include heavy alcohol use, psychological stress, smoking, untreated stress and spicy food. 

NOTE: These risk factors do not cause ulcers, but they can make ulcers worse and more difficult to heal.

Peptic ulcer diagnosis

Two types of tests are available to diagnose a peptic ulcer. They are called upper endoscopy and upper gastrointestinal (GI) series.

Symptoms of Peptic ulcer

Many people with peptic ulcers will not have symptoms but others will. Some of these symptoms include burning stomach pain, bloating or belching, intolerance to fatty foods, heartburn, and nausea. 

In severe cases, it can lead to vomiting or vomiting blood, trouble breathing, feeling faint, unexplained weight loss, and appetite changes.

It is important to see your doctor if you experience these severe symptoms or if over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers relieve your pain only for a short while.

Photo credit; verywell Health.

Treatment for peptic ulcer

Sometimes ulcers disappear on their own. Other times they require medical treatment to prevent serious complications.

When left untreated, peptic ulcers can result in internal bleeding, perforation (a hole) in your stomach wall, obstruction (passage of food through the digestive tract could be blocked), and gastric cancer. 

Conclusion 

While a poor eating habit is a trigger for peptic ulcer, it is not the cause and you can be a big eater and still have a peptic ulcer. 

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2 Comments

  1. Exactly what I was enlightening someone on, thank you for this piece. I will share it to the person.

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