Reducing Your Risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease
Since many peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection ( H. pylori), researchers are very hopeful that eventually there will be a vaccine that will prevent ulcers. In the meantime, however, the following practices may provide some benefit:
Practice Good Hygiene
Since peptic ulcers are sometimes caused by infection with H. pylori , you should follow hygienic practice to decrease your risk of becoming infected. Be sure to:
- Wash hands well and regularly.
- Avoid contact with other people’s vomit or stool.
- Wear gloves if you must clean up after someone, and afterwards wash your hands well.
Smoking has been associated with the development of peptic ulcers because ulcers that do form are slower to heal.. If you are a smoker, talk with your healthcare provider about programs that can help you quit.
Decrease or Stop Using Alcohol
Overuse of alcohol, especially in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, has sometimes been thought to increase the risk of peptic ulcers. Nonsteroidal drugs are definitely proven causes of ulcers, but the causal role of alcohol remains somewhat uncertain—especially in combination with smoking. However, alcohol misuse is a serious health problem regardless of its relationship to ulcer disease. If you can’t stop drinking on your own, contact your healthcare provider for help and support.
Ask About Protective Medications
If you have a medical condition that requires you to take large doses of NSAIDs, ask your healthcare provider about using medications like sodium sucralfate, omeprazole, or misoprostol to help protect your stomach against ulcers.
Reduce Intake of Caffeine, Acidic Foods
Some research suggests that foods and drinks high in caffeine and acid (such as coffee, orange juice, and tomato products) may cause increased stomach acid, which will increase your susceptibility to H. pylori -induced peptic ulcers. You may wish to cut down on your intake of these substances.
Consider Stress Management Strategies
Although most researchers don’t think that stress increases the risk of peptic ulcer, others think that stress can increase stomach acid production. This may make you more susceptible to the effects of H. pylori infection. Ask your healthcare provider for stress-reduction strategies.
American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: http://www.acg.gi.org/ . Accessed March 3, 2006.
Cecil RL, Goldman L, Bennett JC. Cecil Textbook of Medicine . 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.
Meurer LN, Bower DJ. Management of helicobacter pylori infection. Am Fam Physician [online]. Apr 2002;65(7). Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020401/1327.html.
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at:. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ . Accessed March 3, 2006.
Last reviewed June 2008 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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