Ulcer patients typically experience pain and discomfort, especially when it comes to the elderly.

With that in mind, we put together this article so that it can act as a guide for you, as a CDPAP caregiver, on how to effectively identify, treat, and prevent ulcers.


What are ulcers?

An ulcer is a sore or a break in the skin that occurs in the lining of your stomach, small intestines, and/or other body parts.

Where can one get ulcers?

The following are the different areas in which your sick or elderly loved one may get an ulcer in, alongside the scientific name of each type:

  • Duodenal Ulcers: These ulcer types develop in the small intestine.
  • Esophagus Ulcers: This might impact the esophagus and/or throat.
  • Gastric Ulcers: The stomach.
  • Venous Leg Ulcers: Legs.

When you suspect that a friend or family member that you’re caring for has an ulcer, you want to keep an eye on their symptoms. Some of them are common among all types, while others indicate that the patient has an ulcer in a specific body part.

Signs of Ulcers

Here are a few prevalent ulcers signs and symptoms:

  • Aches and swells in the care receiver’s legs.
  • Bloating, burning, discomfort, and/or stomach pain that persists for several minutes or hours and keeps recurring every several days or weeks.
  • Getting full quickly while eating.
  • Itchy skin that flakes or breaks easily.
  • Stomach aches and pains that make it hard for your loved one to fall or stay asleep at night.

Additionally, those that have gastric/stomach ulcers might become uncomfortable when they eat or drink. Likewise, small intestine/duodenal ulcer patients will experience discomfort between meals and/or at night.

If the friend or family member that you provide care for has torn ulcers, here are the symptoms that they may experience:

  • Back aches
  • Bloody and/or dark stools
  • Bloody vomit
  • Nausea
  • Unexpected weight loss

You should always remember that each ulcer type (and its signs) are related to what caused it.

elderly couple

What causes an ulcer?

Heliocobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a form of bacteria that frequently results in ulcers when a patient is infected.

Equally as important, people who take aspirin and/or anti-inflammatory medications (such as Ibuprofen) for prolonged periods are more likely to suffer from ulcers.

Here are the main causes of leg ulcers:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Lymphedema
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Venous Disease

Needless to say, if your loved one was previously diagnosed with having leg ulcers, they are much more likely to develop the condition again in the future, even after successfully treating it.

4 stages of stomach ulcers

Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores or pressure sores, develop when prolonged pressure cuts off the circulation to vulnerable parts of the body, especially the skin on bony areas. They are often a health concern for people with limited mobility such as those in wheelchairs or bedridden individuals. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) classifies pressure ulcers into four stages based on their severity:

  1. Stage 1: This is the earliest stage of a pressure ulcer and the easiest to treat. The skin is not broken but it may appear red on people with lighter skin color, and the skin doesn’t blanch (lose color briefly) when you press your finger on it. On darker skin, the ulcer may appear to have a blue or purple hue.

  2. Stage 2: At this stage, some skin loss has occurred. This can either be a blister, a shallow crater in the skin, or just a crack in the skin. The wound is now open, painful and sensitive to touch.

  3. Stage 3: By this stage, the pressure ulcer has deepened causing a deeper crater beneath the skin’s surface. Fat may show in the sore, but not muscle, tendon, or bone. There may also be signs of infection such as pus.

  4. Stage 4: This is the most severe stage. The pressure ulcer has become so deep that there is damage to the muscle and bone, and sometimes tendons and joints. Stage 4 ulcers can lead to serious complications, such as bone and blood infections.

It’s important to note that there is also an additional category, “Unstageable” pressure ulcers. These are wounds that have a layer of dead tissue (known as slough or eschar) covering the wound bed, which makes it impossible to see how deep the wound is.

Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing pressure ulcers. Regular repositioning, good nutrition, and maintaining skin hygiene can help prevent their development.

Treatment of Ulcers

Stomach and leg ulcers are treated and medicated differently.

Stomach Ulcers

The treatment of ulcers in the stomach includes one or more of the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Medicines that reduce stomach acids
  • Triple therapy, which utilizes a protein pump inhibitor (PPI) alongside 2 antibiotics

Leg Ulcers

On the other hand, here is what treating leg ulcers entails:

  • Compression Therapy: Simply put, your sick or elderly family member or friend would need to wear socks and clothing that improve the function of their legs and allow their body to fight the ulcers.
  • Dressing and Cleaning the Wound: As a caregiver, you want to pay attention to how you can effectively implement this treatment at home. For example, you must pick the right dressing materials, cleansers, and gloves.

Ulcer patients have a lot of treatment options, regardless of where they developed the ulcers. However, the best way to deal with this problem is to prevent it from occurring, as is the case with many medical conditions.

Preventing Ulcers

Stomach and leg ulcers are prevented in different manners.

Leg Ulcers

These ulcers are prevented by losing weight and treating any health issues in the legs.

Stomach Ulcers

In a few words, limiting your loved one’s consumption of aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications (if possible) can greatly reduce the likelihood that they will get an ulcer.

In fact, you should ensure that your sick or elderly loved one addresses any problems in their esophagus, legs, stomach, small intestines, and throat.

Keep in mind that ulcers, in of themselves, may create sores and pains in the body parts that they affect. Having to simultaneously deal with additional medical conditions will make the ulcer even more difficult and painful for the care receiver.

Luckily, the causes of ulcers are easy to identify, and the treatment options are plenty. Having said all that, as we mentioned earlier, the most efficient method for handling ulcers is preventing them from developing in the first place.