Does Stress Cause Ulcers?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

What role does stress play in the formation of ulcers?

Doctor's response

Peptic ulcers (occurring in the lining of the stomach or the part of the small intestine called the duodenum) were formerly thought to be caused by lifestyle stress, coffee consumption, or spicy foods. But it is now known that about 90% of peptic ulcers are actually caused by a bacterial infection that can usually be cured.

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) was established as the leading cause of peptic ulcers in the early 1980s. It was also found to cause gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). Some people can be infected with H. pylori and never develop an ulcer or show any symptoms of the infection. In other people, the organism may persist for years before any symptoms develop. It is not known why some people develop symptoms of the infection and others do not. Treatment of H. pylori infection is relatively simple and can lead to healing in a matter of weeks.

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine

REFERENCE:

"Peptic ulcer disease: Genetic, environmental, and psychological risk factors and pathogenesis"
UpToDate.com

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Last Editorial Review: 7/12/2017

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