If you suffer from peptic ulcer disease, it might be some small consolation to know that there has never been a better time in the history of medical science to have this painful and potentially life-threatening affliction.
Thirty years ago, the mortality rate from ulcers was about one in 30,000 people. Today, it’s more like one in 100,000. The advances in diagnostics and treatments has come so far as to render most of the previous knowledge on peptic ulcer disease obsolete.
But it’s not all good news. While mortality rates have dropped, the rate of hemorrhaging and perforation of stomach ulcers has risen dramatically.
The culprit? The use of NSAIDS, especially among the elderly population. These drugs are steadily changing the face of peptic ulcer disease in developed countries.
Perhaps I should make a short digression here to explain briefly: What are NSAIDS? I’ll write more about this in future articles (especially concerning their relationship with peptic ulcer disease), but for now: NSAIDS are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. The most popular NSAIDS include aspirin and ibuprofen. It is estimated that 95% of people in westernized countries have some form of NSAIDS in their medicine cabinets. While the primary purpose of taking these drugs is to relieve pain and reduce swelling of tissues, when taken for long periods and/or in high doses they are likely to cause stomach ulcers.
While the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium remains the primary causes of peptic ulcer disease globally, in developed countries it seems only a matter of time before NSAIDS overtakes H. pylori as the main culprit.
In developed countries, the increasing life span of the population means more folk are afflicted with conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. The main form of conventional mainstream medical treatment for pain relief and reduction of swelling is NSAIDS.
I’m sad to say that in Australia, between 1979 and 1988, there was found to be a non-coincidental connection between peptic ulcer disease and NSAIDS. During this nine year period, there was a two-fold increase in the consumption of non-aspirin NSAIDS and a two-fold increase in people over the age of 65 suffering from stomach ulcers. It’s hard to ignore these kinds of statistics – we do so only to the detriment of our health and wellbeing.
This connection between the use of NSAIDS and peptic ulcer disease (plus a variety of other digestive complaints) is the primary reason for so much research into alternative natural remedies for arthritis and similar inflammatory conditions. Many of these have proven effective, and every year new products are developed and released.
So, what can you do if you need the anti-inflammatory and pain reducing NSAIDS, but you want to avoid peptic ulcer disease? It is imperative to take precautionary supplements to protect the lining of the stomach (I’ll write more about these soon), and experiment with some of the proven natural arthritis and anti-inflammatory treatments (under the supervision of your health care professional).