What Causes Ulcers?

Medical Author: Melissa Stöppler, M.D.
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

A peptic ulcer is an area of damage to the inner lining of the stomach, esophagus, or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Over 25 million Americans will have a peptic ulcer at some point in their lifetime. People of all ages can suffer from ulcers. Men and women are equally affected.

Peptic ulcers were formerly thought to be caused by stress, coffee consumption, or spicy foods. Now it is clear that about 60% of peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection that can usually be cured. Another 20% are caused by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, etc.), and another 20% have miscellaneous causes such as cigarettes or no clear cause.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014