Many people think that spicy foods cause peptic ulcers, but the truth is that bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) is the main culprit.
Many believe that adults in high-stress jobs are theonly ones affected, people of any age – even children – can develop ulcers.
An ulcer is a sore, which means it’s an open, painful wound.
Peptic ulcers are ulcers that form in the stomach or
the upper part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.
An ulcer in the stomach is a gastric ulcer and an ulcer in the duodenum
is called a duodenal ulcer.
Both a gastric ulcer and a duodenal ulcer result when H. pylori
or a drug such as advil or motrin weakens the coating of the
stomach and duodenum, allowing acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath.
Both the acid and the bacteria can irritate the lining and cause an ulcer to form.
H. pylori infection is usually contracted in childhood,
perhaps throughfood, water, or close contact with an infected individual.
Infections are more common in adults older than age 60 and in developing countries.
Most people with H. pylori don’t display any symptoms until they’re older.
In fact, they may go through life unaware that they’re infected.
Although H. pylori infection usually doesn’t cause problems in childhood,
if left untreated it can cause gastritis
(the irritation and inflammation of the lining of the stomach),
peptic ulcer disease, and even stomach cancer later in life.
In the past, having peptic ulcers meant living with a chronic condition
for several years or even a lifetime.
But today, a better understanding of the cause of peptic ulcers
and how to treat them means that most people can be cured.