Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a medical condition that should be evaluated by your doctor or health care professional. Depending on the cause, different treatments will be recommended. For ulcers related to H. pylori infection, the doctor can recommend a course of treatment with a three- or four-drug combination of antibiotics and anti-ulcer medications. For ulcers related to NSAID use, the usual treatment is to stop the NSAID or decrease the dose. Anti-ulcer medications may also be recommended if symptoms do not go away after stopping the NSAID. If the NSAID cannot be stopped, then anti-ulcer medications and medications to protect the stomach lining may be recommended.
To complement the treatment recommended by your doctor, there are ways you can reduce or eliminate some risk factors associated with ulcers through changes to your lifestyle:
- Stop smoking, or at least smoke less.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake.
- Avoid or consume less of foods and beverages that trigger "heartburn" symptoms (e.g., coffee, tea, cola, alcohol, mints or peppermint, onions, garlic, chocolate).
- Avoid eating spicy and fried foods, as well as acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits, and tomato juice.
- Eat smaller, low-fat meals.
- Do not eat late at night close to bedtime.
- Take antacids to relieve occasional severe symptoms. It is not recommended to take antacids all the time. Consult your pharmacist or doctor rather than try to control chronic symptoms with antacids.
- Probiotics and some foods like cranberry juice may decrease inflammation, which may help improve healing of ulcers caused by H. pylori infections.
- Take the medications prescribed by your doctor, and continue to do so until he or she tells you it is safe to stop.
It may also be useful for your doctor or pharmacist to reassess all of your current medications. In some cases, people with ulcers may need surgery to correct the problems caused by the ulcer (such as tearing of the stomach lining or blockages in the stomach or intestines).
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