What Causes Stomach Ulcers + Is Stress Ever To Blame? A Doctor Answers

“So I’m always stressed at work, “my mom said stress can cause stomach ulcers”– well not just your mom, everybody says that right, that stress gives you ulcers. Is she being stressed out causing an ulcer? This is a great question because for years many people believed this, and even doctors believed it for many years, but now we know this is not actually the case in most types of ulcers. No kidding.
Yeah, so first let’s talk about, “What is an ulcer?” And I have a photo here to kind of break it down for you. So an ulcer is basically, almost like a little tear or a defect in the lining in your stomach. And you can see it there, it looks like a little crater. Now what causes it? It’s actually a pretty complicated, multi-step process most of the time, the first step being something disrupting that protective layer that’s really protecting the lining of your stomach. Why would that be? Well now we know, and this is a relatively recent discovery, it was discovered in the 80s, a bacterial infection, something called H Pylori, and that’s for the majority of ulcers, as what’s the initiating step there. So once you get a little tear or disruption in that protective layer– How do you get that? How do you contract that? That is a great question. So this is a very common bacterial infection, many people actually contract it in childhood, but don’t have symptoms until later from shared utensils,
Wow. saliva, all these things. So then you have that disruption, now that the enzymes and the acid that’s in your stomach, because that protective layer’s been disrupted, they can start eating away at the lining of your stomach, that’s what’s causing an ulcer. Another very common cause: anti-inflammatory medicines. Things like ibuprofen. I see that very often in my practice, aspirin, ibuprofen, taking too many of those can also cause ulcers. So does stress play a role? Well, I do think stress can maybe cause an overproduction of acid for some people, it can cause you to feel more pain from an ulcer, but usually not the initiating step. It isn’t what caused the ulcer itself. Correct, correct.
It aggravates it. It aggravates it, but you’re absolutely right, Genevieve, stress has so many deleterious effects on your body, you want to keep it under control. But for ulcers, per se, it’s probably not the main thing going on. If you have any symptoms of nausea, a gnawing pain when you’re hunger in the center of your stomach, black or tarry stools, these are some of the symptoms of an ulcer, you definitely want to get it checked out. When it can start as a little crater, could erode through the entire wall of your ulcer, Wow.
Life threatening emergency, you don’t want to let it get to that point. Talk to your doctor if you have any of those symptoms. And on that happy note, (audience clapping) (laughing) Load of sunshine here. (audience cheers)

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