Ulcers were once thought to be caused by stress or a bad diet. We now know that the majority of ulcers are caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. The remainder of ulcers is caused by aspirin and arthritis medications called NSAIDs.
A rare hormonal condition (Zollinger Ellison's syndrome) causes excessive acid production and ulcers. Helicobacter can survive in a strong acid environment of the stomach and causes inflammation. The bacteria may be passed between family members or be found in contaminated water or food. In some individuals, this inflammation can lead to ulcers, which are seen as a breakdown of the lining of the stomach or duodenum (upper small intestine). Ulcers can cause burning, indigestion, pain, or bleeding. Helicobacter can be diagnosed with a blood test, breath test or an upper endoscopy with biopsy. The treatment comprises taking a proton pump inhibitor in combination with two antibiotics. We recommend a combination of antibiotics. Commonly use antibiotics include Biaxin, Flagyl and amoxicillin.