7 Tips for Managing Stomach Ulcers

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Gina Garippo on February 3, 2020
  • Doctor checking patient's stomach
    Managing and Preventing Ulcers
    It’s important to know that most people with a stomach ulcer are treated successfully. There are also some simple steps you can take on your own to complement your treatment and help the ulcer heal. Your actions may even help prevent future ulcers. Ask your doctor about the following ways to manage your stomach ulcer and feel better.
  • Woman holding pill
    1. Mind Your Meds
    Most people with stomach ulcers take prescription drugs to reduce pain and help the ulcer heal. For example, antibiotics kill an H. pylori bacterial infection—the leading cause of stomach ulcers. But antibiotics and other drugs won’t work as well if you don’t take them as prescribed. Acid blockers should be taken on an empty stomach 30 minutes before mealtime. If your doctor prescribes medicine for your stomach ulcer, follow the directions exactly. And finish taking the entire course of medicine, even if you feel better.
  • holding oral tablets
    2. Avoid Antacids
    Antacids, such as Tums, can help your stomach ulcer feel better for a little while. But you should avoid taking them. Antacids won’t heal a stomach ulcer and can actually interfere with medications that do. For example, antacids reduce how well some antibiotics work.
  • glass of milk
    3. Don’t Overdo Dairy
    Some people believe that drinking milk can help cure a stomach ulcer. And while it’s true that milk can make you feel better briefly, it isn’t a cure for ulcers. In fact, drinking too much milk can increase stomach acid, which can actually make an ulcer worse.
  • Quit Smoking
    4. Kick the Habit
    Smoking slows the healing process. It can also make an ulcer worse. In addition, smoking after you heal from an ulcer can cause the ulcer to come back. Smoking’s effect on ulcers is just one more reason to quit. Ask your doctor for resources that can help you kick the habit.
  • man-pouring-pills-into-hand
    5. Reconsider Your Pain Pills
    The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a class of pain reliever, is the second-most common cause of stomach ulcers. NSAIDs include aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). If you take NSAIDs, ask your doctor if you can take another type of pain reliever instead. If NSAIDs are necessary, ask about "enteric coated" medications that can help protect the lining of your stomach. And try to take the pain pills with a meal.
  • Eating dinner
    6. Enjoy Your Diet
    Many people think that spicy foods can cause an ulcer. Not so. Although spicy foods can irritate ulcer symptoms in some people, there’s no special diet you have to follow if you have stomach ulcers. So enjoy your food—but watch your drink. Drinking alcohol slows the healing of ulcers and can make them worse.
  • Ambulance Back
    7. Know When to Get Help
    Sometimes stomach ulcers lead to problems that require immediate treatment. These symptoms include quick or heavy bleeding. Signs that your ulcer may be bleeding include black, sticky stools or blood in the stool, vomit that looks like coffee grounds or contains blood, or feeling light-headed. If you experience these symptoms, call 911.
7 Tips for Managing Stomach Ulcers

About The Author

  1. What I Need to Know About Peptic Ulcer Disease. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/peptic-ulcer/Documents/WINTKA-PepticUlcers_508.pdf

  2. Peptic Ulcer Disease. American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/peptic-ulcer-disease/

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Feb 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.