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Duodenal Ulcer Causes & Risks


Upsets in the balance of stomach acid and digestive juices can lead to an ulcer. This can be caused by:

  • Bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) —common cause
  • Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—blocks the body's ability to protect the stomach lining; common cause
  • Diseases that cause acid production to increase, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
Not all people that take NSAIDs or with H pylori infection develop ulcers.

Rare causes include:

Risk Factors

Risk factors for ulcer from H pylori infection include:

  • Age: 60 or older
  • Sex: male
  • Race: Black and Hispanic
  • Lower socio-economic group
  • A crowded and unsanitary living environment
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Family history of ulcer disease
  • Type O blood

Risk factors for ulcer from anti-inflammatory drugs include:

  • Age: 60 or older
  • Sex: male
  • History of stomach upset from NSAIDs
  • Prior peptic ulcer disease
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol abuse

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