Ulcers simple measures for relief
The usual sign of a peptic ulcer-an acid-caused sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine-is a steady gnawing or burning pain below the breastbone. Because an ulcer is worse when the stomach is empty, sufferers are usually advised to eat three regular meals a day and to use an antacid in between. Food In the stomach relieves ulcer pain because, while it stimulates the acid production that caused the sore, at the same time it dilutes the acid and acts as protective coating.
Certain stimulating substances are best avoided. Among them are carbonated drinks, beer, tea, and coffee (decaffeinated as well as regular). Taken with a meal, small amounts of these may be tolerated.
Watching your diet
A milk diet, or even a bland diet, does little either to lessen pain or allow an ulcer to heal. Milk, after neu tralizing a certain amount of acid, causes a fresh surge of acid. And there is no evidence that spicy, fatty, or other indigestion-causing foods adversely affect all ulcers. Trial and error can tell you which foods, if any, you should avoid. Keeping a food diary helps: jot down what you eat at each meal, then note whether pain follows.
There are prescription drugs for treating ulcers, but many people do well with over-the-counter antacids. Watch for side effects: magnesium-based antacids may cause diarrhea; aluminum-based ones, constipation. Combinations with both minerals upset the bowels less. Avoid calcium-based antacids: they cause the same reaction as milk. Don’t take antacids along with other ulcer drugs; they can interrupt absorption. If you are taking any other medication, ask your doctor before taking an antacid.