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Ulcers are a fact of life for many people today. Often accompanied with a level of pain that is distracting at best and debilitating at worse, ulcers can form when situations occur that interfere with the body’s natural ability to heal and function. Here are several of the most common causes of ulcers among people today.
While most people would immediately agree that stress is one of the big causes of ulcers, they would not be exactly correct. While stress is assuredly bad for the body in general, it does not lead directly to the formation of ulcers. The role that stress plays is in weakening the body’s natural defenses against infection.
Stress accomplishes this by inhibiting the production of HCl. This is a significant matter, as HCl is one of the compounds that help to keep the production of H. pylori from getting out of hand. The presence of too much H. pylori in the digestive tract can lead to the development of peptic ulcers, ulcers of the esophagus, and ulcers in the duodenum. Keeping stress under control will help keep the levels of HCl and H. pylori in balance, but eliminating stress will not result in healing ulcers.
Another of the more common causes of ulcers is the consumption of excess amounts of aspirin. Aspirin can cause a breakdown in the stomach lining. As the lining of the stomach and the small intestine are thinned by aspirin, the opportunity for breaks and lesions develop. This provides the ideal circumstances for an ulcer to develop. While occasional use of aspirin does not usually create a problem, persons who find that aspirin consumption in excess of 500 milligrams per day is a common occurrence, the risk of developing an ulcer is very real.
Over time, alcohol abuse also can damage the natural mucosal lining in the stomach. As with aspirin, moderate and responsible consumption of wine and other forms of alcohol are unlikely to lead to the development of ulcers. However, a prolonged period of alcohol abuse will slowly erode the lining until breaks begin to appear. This overindulgence in alcoholic beverages forms the basis for one of the leading causes of ulcers in our society today.
Like aspirin, prescription medications may serve as one of the causes of ulcers. Antibiotics such as tetracycline and doxcycline have been recognized as causing ulcer development in the esophagus. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as indomethacin are now being investigated as potential sources of ulcers. Some prescription medication may not be among the causes of ulcers, but drugs that are part of the corticosteroid family have shown a tendency to mask symptoms of peptic ulcers until the condition has reached serious proportions.
Other diseases also rank high among the causes of ulcers. Persons who suffer from conditions of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of developing an ulcer, even if the individual is not taking a prescription or over the counter medication that has been identified as a cause of ulcers. There is some speculation that the weakening of the body’s immune system with these and other types of diseases are what allow for the increased risk of ulcers.
Many of the various causes of ulcers can be eliminated by lifestyle changes, such as limiting the use of alcohol, watching the consumption of aspirin, and finding constructive ways to deal with stress. Consult your primary care physician for more information on what you can do to increase your chances of avoiding the formation of ulcers.