Does milk cure ulcers?

Monday April 19 2021
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By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

I have been taking milk since 2017 but there is no relief with my ulcers. Why is this the case yet they say milk helps to ease ulcer symptoms? Benita

Dear Benita,
Peptic ulcer disease refers to painful sores in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, (the duodenum), or the part of the gut before the stomach (lower oesophagus) which are usually exposed to acid produced by the stomach.

Although normally, a thick layer of mucus and a strong membrane protect the stomach from the effect of stomach acids, infection (helicobacter pylori), painkillers called NSAIDs (such as diclofenac, indocid aspirin), or excess production of acid (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome) may reduce this protective layer, causing wounds in the said gut areas (peptic ulcers). 
Rarely, ulcers (curling’s ulcers) may be caused by stress. However, missing meals or eating spicy foods can only make ulcers more painful, but are not a cause. Also, foods may help ease ulcer symptoms but will not cure established peptic ulcers. For example, capsacin in pepper has been said to prevent peptic ulcers. 

Treatment of ulcers includes lifestyle changes such as not smoking or taking too much alcohol, stopping use of the said painkillers and eradication of helicobacter pylori.
Milk provides brief relief of ulcer pain because it coats the stomach lining and also mixes and dilutes stomach acid. Milk in some people may stimulate the stomach to produce more acid and digestive juices, which can aggravate ulcers. 
Prevention of peptic ulcers involves avoiding taking unprescribed NSAIDs painkillers. Washing hands thoroughly, eating food that is properly prepared and drinking water from a safe, clean source are important steps for preventing H. pylori infection and reinfection after treatment.

You need to check your stool, breath or even endoscopy for diagnosing the presence of the said ulcers and if H.Pylori is found, get eradication treatment. It may be prudent to grow the germs and subject them to various antimicrobial agents so that the ones which kill the germ (culture and sensitivity) are used for treatment. 

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