ZocdocAnswersWhat causes an ulcer to form?

Question

What causes an ulcer to form?

A lot of people in my family have stomach issues. I don?t really, but I do drink alcohol and eat a lot of spicy stuff. Could this give me an ulcer? What causes them? Can I get a test for having them from a doctor?

Answer

Stomach ulcers are generally caused by normal or high acid secretion in the presence of a poor stomach lining. The stomach lining is actually the key in preventing damage to the stomach cells and preventing ulceration. There are many types of cells lining the stomach but one kind in particular secretes mucin (like mucous). These mucin producing cells can be affected by a person taking too much non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen and naproxen etc.... A bacteria known as H. pylori can also be a frequent cause of stomach as well as duodenal ulcers. In addition, smoking is also a risk factor as chemical in the tobacco smoke causes a decrease in blood circulation. This is believed to predispose someone with a lining injury to not heal and eventually lead to an ulcer. Alcohol may increase the risk but eating spicy food is NOT known to cause stomach ulcers. That said, stomach ulcers were a very common reason for people to get surgery, but nowadays there are very good anti-acid medications that can cut down on the stomach acid secretion. Since you have a family history of stomach ulcers, you may want to investigate why that is the case. Is it because many of them have H pylori, are frequent NSAIDs users, or do they smoke a lot? Also, did they get an upper endoscopy or was this something that was diagnosed clinically? It is good idea to schedule a consultation with a primary care physician.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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