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July 29, 2016

Does Stress Cause Peptic Ulcers?

Peptic ulcers are found in a person’s stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine), and they can really be a pain. As the most common type of ulcer, peptic ulcers have a reputation for being caused by too much stress – but is this really true?

Stress can account for a number of health issues, including an upset stomach, inability to sleep properly or at all, feeling generally worn down and fatigued, and more. It’s easy to blame the pain and discomfort caused by a peptic ulcer on stress if stress is prevalent in your life. However, peptic ulcers are not actually caused by stress. Peptic ulcers are caused by infection (H. pylori) or use of certain medications (NSAIDs – anti-inflammatory medications). In rare cases, stomach ulcers can be caused by cancer, Crohn’s disease, sarcoidosis, and other infections such as tuberculosis (TB).

The reason many people tend to confuse peptic ulcers with stress is likely the symptoms associated with the condition. Peptic ulcers can cause abdominal pain that may be relieved if a person takes antacids or has a bit of food. They can also cause heartburn, indigestion and even upper GI bleeding. These symptoms often mimic the same feelings of discomfort and illness we experience during times of heavy stress, so when an ulcer is diagnosed, people are quick to assume that their stress level is to blame.

Fortunately, even if stress remains ever present in your life, treatment for peptic ulcers is available at InSite Digestive Health Care. Through use of the endoscopy, our gastroenterologists are able to view the lining of your upper GI tract, which of course includes your stomach and duodenum. If a peptic ulcer is found during this examination, your doctor will work to determine the cause.

Treatment for peptic ulcer depends entirely on the reason the ulcer exists. If a bacterial infection is present, then antibiotics are prescribed to clear it from your system. If you are using NSAIDs, it is likely your doctors will take you off of these medications. For some, a peptic ulcer will simply heal on its own after a few weeks, though there is the chance that the ulcer will return.

If you think you may have a peptic ulcer, we advise contacting a physician at InSite Digestive Health Care in order to discuss your symptoms.