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Now that Helicobacter pylori has been identified as a major cause of peptic ulcers, the usefulness of making certain lifestyle changes 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. 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 doctor about ways to help yourself stop.

Don’t Abuse Alcohol

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.

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.

References:

H. pylori and peptic ulcers. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori/index.aspx . Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2013.

Meurer LN, Bower DJ. Management of Helicobacter pylori infection. Am Fam Physician . 2002;65(7):1327-36.

Peptic ulcer disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2013.

Understanding peptic ulcer disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/peptic-ulcer-disease . Published April 23, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2013.



Last reviewed April 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Brian Randall, MD

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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