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Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers (Peptic Ulcers)

What is a stomach or duodenal ulcer?

About one in 10 Americans develops at least one ulcer during his or her lifetime. Many people have surgery because of persistent symptoms or problems from ulcers.

An ulcer is an open sore, or lesion, usually found on the skin or mucous membrane areas of the body.

  • An ulcer in the lining of the stomach or duodenum, where hydrochloric acid and pepsin are present, is referred to as a peptic ulcer.
  • When the ulcer is in the stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer.
  • When the ulcer is in the duodenum, it is called a duodenal ulcer.
What causes gastric and duodenal ulcers?

In the past, it was believed lifestyle factors such as stress and diet caused ulcers. Later, researchers determined that stomach acids – hydrochloric acid and pepsin – contributed to ulcer formation.

Today, research shows that most ulcers (80 percent of gastric ulcers and 90 percent of duodenal ulcers) develop as a result of infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

It is believed that, although all three of these factors – lifestyle, acid and pepsin, and H. pylori – play a role in ulcer development, H. pylori is considered to be the primary cause, in most cases.

Treatment for stomach and duodenal ulcers:

Specific treatment for stomach and duodenal ulcers will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference