Now that H. pylori has been identified as a major cause of peptic ulcers, the usefulness of making certain lifestyle changes (stress reduction, diet) has been called into question. Still, some lifestyle changes may decrease your production of stomach acid, decrease your susceptibility to peptic ulcers, and help you control your symptoms. And smoking cessation is considered essential in reducing the development and symptoms of peptic ulcers.

General Guidelines

Managing Peptic Ulcers

Stop Smoking

Some studies show that cigarette smokers have a higher risk of peptic ulcers. These studies have also shown that ulcers in cigarette smokers heal more slowly and have a greater chance of recurring. If you smoke, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to help yourself stop.

Don’t Abuse Alcohol

Very heavy alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of peptic ulcers. Drinking alcohol while you are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can greatly increase your risk of stomach irritation and peptic ulcer development. Alcohol may also worsen your symptoms if you already have a peptic ulcer.

Limit Caffeine and Acidic Foods

If you consume caffeinated and acidic foods and drinks (such as coffee, orange juice, or tomato products), you may develop some degree of stomach irritation. This can make you more susceptible to infection with H. pylori and the development of peptic ulcers. Furthermore, if you already have a peptic ulcer, you may find that heavily caffeinated, acidic foods and beverages are irritating to your stomach.

Cut Back on Spicy Foods

While cutting back on heavily spiced foods is no longer believed to protect you from developing a peptic ulcer, you may find that these foods make your symptoms worse. If you notice stomach irritation after eating spicy foods, try to avoid them until your ulcer has healed.

Learn to Manage Stress

Stress is no longer thought to be responsible for the development of peptic ulcers. However, learning to manage the stress in your life may be helpful if you have stomach pain when your stress level gets too high.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Always call your doctor if:

  • Symptoms don’t improve or recur with treatment
  • Symptoms get worse despite treatment
  • You notice new symptoms.