Ulcer symptoms can flare up when certain foods, medications or stomach conditions raise the amount of gastric acid in your gastrointestinal tract and wear away the protective mucous lining. Because these symptoms can be uncomfortable and even painful, the people who suffer them often seek immediate relief. However, temporary relief should not take the place of diet and lifestyle changes that may provide relief from ulcer symptoms for good.
Immediate Relief From Ulcer Symptoms
Ulcer pain and discomfort can last 30 minutes to three hours. To get immediate relief from your symptoms, take an over-the-counter or prescription antacid or drink a glass of milk. This will neutralize your stomach's pH and halt most ulcer symptoms. However, wait one to two hours before taking any other medications. Antacids prevent your stomach from absorbing medication.
Change Your Eating Habits
Ulcer symptoms are painful, but treating them episode by episode is not always the best long-term solution—especially if you have recurrent ulcer pain. One way to get more permanent relief is to alter your eating habits.
While food choices don't cause ulcers, certain foods—especially those that are high in fat or are spicy—cause your stomach to produce more gastric acid, which can bring on painful ulcer symptoms. Other problematic foods include granola, bran, raw vegetables, high-fat cooking oils, nuts, seeds, citrus fruits, berries, processed meats, sardines, anchovies, strongly flavored seasonings and condiments, pickles, chocolate, and tomatoes and tomato products.
Changing how you eat can also help you get relief. When you skip meals or overeat, the amount of acid in your stomach increases, which can trigger ulcer pain. Prevent these flare-ups by eating three small meals and three snacks that are evenly spaced throughout your day. And choose a relaxed setting to eat these meals. Sit down to eat and chew your food slowly and well.
Lying down right after a meal can also cause an increase in gastric acid and a symptom flare-up. Do not lie down for at least one hour after a meal and plan your last meal of the day so that it ends three hours before you go to bed.
See a Doctor
The majority of ulcers are caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If the cause of your ulcer has not been professionally diagnosed, you may be able to get permanent relief simply by taking an antibiotic or changing to another type of medication.
Furthermore, some ulcer symptoms require immediate attention. If your abdominal pain suddenly increases or becomes abnormally sharp, you vomit blood or a substance that resembles coffee grounds, or your stool is bloody or black and tarry, make an emergency appointment with your physician or go to the emergency room.