Peptic Ulcer Disease: Skip the Antacid and See Your Doctor Instead
Mike, a regional representative for an expanding software company, has had bouts of stomach discomfort and pain for eight months. His busy schedule has kept him from going to the doctor, and he figures he will eventually lower his stress level and wean himself off favorite spicy foods. Besides, a friend has introduced him to an over-the-counter (OTC) acid-reducing drug that treats his heartburn. Mike believes that he may have cured his problem.
Mike is typical of the many people in the United States who suffer from heartburn, which can be a symptom of an ulcer. Too busy to seek treatment, people instead self-prescribe an antacid. The trouble is, many of these individuals actually have peptic ulcer disease (PUD), and by self-medicating, are not getting proper treatment for their condition. According to the American Gastroenterological Foundation (AGA), 25 million Americans currently suffer PUD, which is caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). However, studies show that public perception of ulcers -- that they are caused by stress -- continues, despite evidence to the contrary.