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Are Stomach Ulcers Caused By Stress And Diet?

It's a Common Belief That Stress Can Cause Stomach Ulcers

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Updated February 06, 2014

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Pasta Dish

Could spicy food lead to a stomach ulcer?

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Question: Are Stomach Ulcers Caused By Stress And Diet?

Answer: It's a common belief that peptic ulcers in the stomach are caused by lifestyle factors such as high amounts of stress or eating very spicy food. The truth is that neither of these things can actually cause a stomach ulcer. The most common cause of ulcers is actually a bacteria named Helicobacter pylori. A second, less common cause of stomach ulcers is the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Sometimes ulcers form for other reasons, or in the absence of known causes.

H. pylori is present in the stomach of many people, but most never develop ulcers. It's not understood why some people develop ulcers and some do not, or even how H. pylori is spread. It is now known that while stress and diet (alcohol and spicy food) do not cause stomach ulcers, they can certainly worsen the symptoms of an existing ulcer.

Ulcers caused by H. pylori are treated with antibiotics and acid suppression medications. Ulcers caused by NSAIDs are treated by avoiding the use of NSAIDs and taking medication to reduce stomach acid.

Sources:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "H. pylori and Peptic Ulcers." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Apr 2010. 5 Feb 2014.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. "NSAIDs and Peptic Ulcers." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Apr 2010. 5 Feb 2014.

 

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