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Digestive health centre

Living with an ulcer

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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You can reduce your risk of developing an ulcer or relieve the severity of your symptoms by making some changes to your lifestyle:

  • Cut down on the amount of coffee and tea you drink. This can increase the amount of acid your stomach produces. Try herbal teas instead.
  • Drink milk and eat milk-based foods, such as yoghurt and cheese. Milk is thought to coat the stomach and neutralise the effects of stomach acid.
  • Lose any extra weight you are carrying.
  • Eat little and often. This could help reduce the build-up of stomach acid between meals.
  • Ask your GP for advice about other medicines if you're very sensitive to aspirin and other NSAIDs.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. Too much alcohol can irritate the areas of inflammation in your stomach. 
  • Avoid spicy or excessively rich foods if they make your symptoms worse.
  • Quit smoking. It can put you at greater risk of developing an ulcer and impede your recovery.

Stress can cause your stomach to produce more acid. This won't necessarily cause an ulcer, but it can make your symptoms worse. Try these tips for de-stressing:

  • If you find yourself becoming angry or upset, take time out, even if only for five minutes. Relax your muscles and calm yourself by slow, deep breathing. 
  • Identify the underlying causes of your stress. Are you taking on too much? Are there things you're doing that could be handed over to someone else? 
  • Make time to relax. Saying 'I just can't take the time off' is no use if you're forced to take time off later through ill health. 
  • Sleeping problems are common when you're suffering from stress, but try not to take sleeping pills for longer than a night or two. 
  • Enjoy yourself. Have some fun and reward yourself for positive actions, attitudes and thoughts.
Medical Review: September 24, 2009

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