NSAIDs and other pain relievers aren’t safe to take with stomach ulcers. Antacids may help relieve pain, but they can’t treat the ulcer.
A stomach ulcer is an open sore in your stomach or your upper intestine. It happens when the lining of your stomach or intestine breaks down and exposes the tissue underneath. This can cause pain that feels similar to heartburn and can lead to stomach bleeding and holes in the stomach.
Pain medications, including common over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen, can make ulcers worse. In some cases, they can even cause ulcers.
If you know you have an ulcer, it’s typically not safe to take this type of pain reliever. Unless you have approval from your doctor, it’s best to take alternative pain relievers, such as acetaminophen.
It’s important for people with stomach ulcers to be careful with pain medications.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can make your ulcer worse. NSAIDs include medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin) and aspirin.
It’s best to avoid these drugs if you can. Instead, you can try to take a non-NSAID, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). If you need to take an NSAID, it’s a good idea to take it with food. This can make it easier on your stomach.
Antacids are one of the fastest ways to get relief from ulcer pain.
However, it’s important to remember that these medications aren’t intended to heal your ulcer. They can relieve your pain, but they’re not a long-term solution.
Some people also report that home remedies such as drinking water or eating yogurt provide quick relief.
What’s the best antacid for ulcers?
There are many antacids available for quick, over-the-counter ulcer pain relief.
Antacids work by neutralizing the acid in your stomach. They can stop the pain and other symptoms. The best antacid for you is typically a matter of preference.
Antacids are sold in a variety of forms and flavors and at a variety of price points. Additionally, some antacids have added calcium. Depending on your dietary needs, this could be a reason to avoid them or a reason they’re a good fit for you.
It’s important to see a doctor about your stomach ulcer. They can provide a treatment plan that will help you heal and manage your ulcer. There are also some do’s and don’ts you can follow at home that can help.
Some do’s of ulcer management include:
- Do eat at regular intervals to make digestion easier on your stomach.
- Do try to eat smaller meals more often.
- Do eat slowly.
- Do add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Do stay hydrated.
- Do let your doctor know if your medications aren’t working.
- Do lower your stress levels.
Some don’ts of ulcer management include:
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t drink caffeinated beverages, or cut down on how many you consume.
- Don’t drink alcohol, or cut down on how much you consume.
- Don’t eat highly acidic or very spicy foods.
- Don’t eat too many fried or oily foods.
- Don’t take NSAID medications.
- Don’t stop or change your medications without talking with your doctor.
- Don’t eat right before bed.
How long should a stomach ulcer take to heal?
Most stomach ulcers heal with a month or two of treatment. If yours has been around longer, make sure to talk with your doctor about it.
An ulcer can sometimes be a medical emergency. It’s important to go to the hospital right away if:
- you have severe stomach pain that doesn’t go away
- your stomach feels hard when you touch it
- your vomit or stool contains blood
- you feel faint
- you’re sweating or feel clammy
- you’re confused
- your stools look black and tarry
Ulcer pain can keep you awake, but steps you can take to reduce your nighttime symptoms. For instance, it’s a good idea to:
- Sleep on your left side: Sleeping on your left side can help keep stomach acid in your lower esophagus and can reduce pain.
- Sleep on your back with your head elevated: If you’re not a side sleeper, sleeping with your upper body elevated can help move acid through the digestive tract. This can help relieve pain. Special wedge pillows have been created for this.
- Avoid eating before bed: It’s a good idea to stop eating at least 2 hours before bed. This gives your body time to process food, and it can help ease your symptoms.
Stomach ulcers can be painful and hard to manage. NSAID pain relievers can aggravate stomach ulcers and can make your pain worse. It’s important to be careful and take alternative pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, instead.
For relief from ulcer pain, over-the-counter antacids are a fast solution. However, they’re not a cure. It’s important to see your doctor. They can prescribe medications that can help treat and heal your ulcer.
While your ulcer heals, it’s a good idea to take steps at home, such as avoiding citrus and spicy foods, cutting back on caffeine, stopping NSAIDs, and staying hydrated. Sleeping on your left side or with your upper body elevated can help you get a good night’s rest.