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Stress and Stomach Ulcers

Posted on: November 28th, 2022 by Our Team

Does stress cause stomach ulcers? The answer to that question is not really that cut and dry.

When people develop ulcers, it’s common for them to assume they are caused by stress. While some ulcers can develop in ICU patients experiencing severe physical stress, most ulcers are not a direct result of emotional stress.

Ulcers, painful sores in the stomach lining or the first part of the small intestine (called the duodenum), occur when the mucus that protects your stomach lining decreases.

There are two common causes for ulcers:

  • An infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. According to WebMD, about two thirds of the world’s population has this bacterium in their stomach although most never get sick. It can enter the body through unclean food, water, or utensils and damages tissue in your stomach and the first part of your small intestine. This can sometimes end up causing stomach ulcers and has been associated with certain types of stomach cancer.
  • Long-term use or large doses of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. Misuse or overuse of these drugs can eat away at the mucus which lines your digestive tract and cause ulcers.

While stress alone does not cause ulcers, it certainly doesn’t help your cause either. Your body’s natural reaction to stress is to create additional stomach acids which can exacerbate an issue if one already exists.

Symptoms of ulcers include burning stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, or feeling bloated or full. In some severe cases, patients may experience symptoms such as vomiting, unexplained weight loss, dark stools or trouble breathing.

The good news is ulcers can be treated with medication and usually go away within a few months. In some rare cases, surgery may be needed to treat the ulcer.

If you have concerns and are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above regularly, call us at 815-397-7340 to schedule an appointment.

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