Medical Misconception: Stomach Ulcers

Each month we set the facts straight regarding a popular health and wellness myth.

This month’s misconception: Stomach ulcers are caused by stress and spicy food.

There it is again – that burning feeling in your stomach. Sometimes it comes when you haven’t eaten, or it keeps you up late at night. It can last for a few minutes or a few hours, sometimes for days, sometimes for months.

These are some of the signs of a peptic ulcer, when stomach acid damages the stomach’s walls. But what causes it?

For many years, it was commonly thought that constant stress and/or indulging in too many spicy foods were reasons why peptic ulcers developed. While those could aggravate the ulcer, today we know that these are not the culprit.

Instead, there are two major known causes of ulcers. The first is a commonly found bacteria called Heliobacter pylori, which is typically transmitted through contaminated food and water or unsanitary conditions. For some people, it is harmless; in others, it attacks and weakens the stomach lining. The second cause is certain pain relievers, including aspirin and NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. Smoking and drinking alcohol can make individuals more susceptible to getting these ulcers as well.

Other symptoms of a peptic ulcer include a feeling of fullness, bloating, burping, vomiting and weight loss. If you have these symptoms, please consult your health care provider. If you don’t have a provider, call Care Connect at 410-871-7000 or view our online physician directory to find one.

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