Ulcer patients advised against frequent use of painkillers

A general physician, Dr Christian Udofia, on Monday advised people with peptic ulcer to avoid frequent use of painkillers to avoid further complications.

Udofia, who is also the Medical Director of Noble Hospital, Okota in Lagos, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that pain relieving drugs could lead to severe pains in ulcer patients.

NAN reports that peptic ulcer or stomach ulcer is a break in the lining of the stomach, first part of the small intestine, or occasionally the lower esophagus.

He said that painkiller was also known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

“An ulcer in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer while that in the first part of the intestines is known as a duodenal ulcer.

“The most common symptoms are waking at night with upper abdominal pain or upper abdominal pain that improves with eating, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, passing excessive amounts of gas.

“The pain is often described as a burning or dull ache. Other symptoms include belching, vomiting, weight loss, or poor appetite.’’

The physician said that aspirin was just one of many NSAIDs, which could cause serious damage to the digestive system if taken too often.

“Other members of the NSAIDs class include: the over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, and many other prescription drugs.

“When such drugs are abused or taken constantly, it may lead to further complications like bleeding and perforation through the walls of the stomach, complicating the ulcer symptoms.

“Patients living with peptic ulcer should always use painkillers that are duly prescribed by doctors with the necessary dosage given,’’ he said.

Udofia further advised people to always wash their hands to prevent infection, saying that most ulcers were caused by a type of bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori.

He urged the ulcer sufferers to maintain a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables, saying that these would provide sufficient vitamins to aid healing of peptic ulcer.

Udofia said that the ailment occurred when there was over-production of gastric acid in the stomach.

“Excess acid production from the gastrin producing cells in the small bowels (duodenum) or pancreas results in Gastrinomas, which are rare tumors.

“Gastrin is a hormone that controls the amount of acid in the stomach. Acid helps to digest food.

“Over-production of this gastrin reduces the quantity of mucous that protects the stomach from acids or infection with an organism.

“Gastric acid is secreted normally to help the process of digestion; when there is over-production of this gastric acid in the stomach, it will cause a peptic ulcer,’’ Udofia said.

He, therefore, advised the public to ensure regular medical checkup for early and proper diagnosis of ailments particularly ulcer, saying that Endoscopy and Upper Gastrointestinal series diagnosis could be used to detect peptic ulcers. 

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