Signs of an Ulcer
Stress and Ulcers
No, although anxiety can make symptoms worse. It's a common misperception that stress causes ulcers because your stomach may get upset when you're tense. But for most ulcers--which are sores in the lining of your esophagus, stomach, or small intestine--bacteria calledHelicobacter pyloriare the culprit. As many as 50 to 60% of Americans have the germs in their stomachs, but only about 10 to 15% actually get ulcers, he says. Experts don't know exactly why, but genetics is likely one big reason. Another factor: Some strains of bacteria are more toxic than others, and people have different types and amounts of strains.
The other most common cause of ulcers is regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which can irritate your stomach lining. Smoking and excess alcohol drinking may also increase the amount of stomach acid you produce, worsening symptoms. Ulcer symptoms include pain high in your stomach that usually improves after eating and burning abdominal pain in the middle of the night. If diagnosed, you can take antibiotics to kill the ulcer-aggravating bacteria and other drugs to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach.--Holly C.
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