The two most common causes of
peptic ulcer disease are infection with
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria and use of
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Although many people are infected with H. pylori
bacteria, only a few of them will develop peptic ulcer disease. Certain factors
make a person with an H. pylori infection more likely to
get an ulcer. Some of these factors, not all of which are well understood,
- The use of certain medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil,
Motrin), or other NSAIDs.
- Excessive alcohol
- Prior history of ulcers.
- Physical stress caused by
a severe illness or injury (such as a major trauma, the need to be on a
ventilator to assist breathing, or surgery).
Most peptic ulcers that are not caused by an
H. pylori infection are caused by the
use of NSAIDs. NSAIDs may be prescribed to control pain or inflammation
caused by long-term (chronic) diseases such as arthritis or headaches. When
used for weeks or months, NSAIDs can damage the lining of the digestive tract,
causing an ulcer or making an existing ulcer worse.
A rare cause
of peptic ulcers is
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. In this condition, the
stomach greatly overproduces acid, damaging the stomach lining.
Although there is no evidence to prove that emotional or mental stress
causes ulcers, it does seem to make ulcers worse in some people. But the
connection is still controversial. And there are no specific recommendations
counseling or psychotherapy to treat peptic
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