Too much stress, too
much spicy food, and you may be headed for an ulcer — or so
the thinking used to go.
Not long ago, the common belief was that peptic ulcers
were a result of lifestyle. A great deal has changed.
Doctors now know that a bacterial infection or medications,
not stress or diet, cause most ulcers of the stomach and
upper part of the small intestine. Most ulcers of the
esophagus are associated with the reflux of stomach acid.
Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside
lining of your stomach, upper small intestine or esophagus.
The most prominent symptom of a peptic ulcer is pain.
Depending on their location, ulcers have different names:
- Gastric ulcer. A peptic
ulcer that occurs in your stomach is called a gastric
- Duodenal ulcer. An ulcer
that develops in your small intestine is named for the
section of the intestine where it develops. The most
common is a duodenal (doo-o-DEE-nul) ulcer, which
develops in the duodenum, the first part of the small
- Esophageal ulcer. An
esophageal ulcer is usually located in the lower section
of your esophagus. It's often associated with chronic
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Peptic ulcers are common. About one in 10 Americans
experience a peptic ulcer at some point in their lives. The
good news is that, oftentimes, successful treatment of
ulcers takes just a few weeks.