Over 25 million Americans will develop peptic ulcer disease at some point during their lives, exacting a heavy burden in health care related costs – an estimated six billion each year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Until recently, it was believed that stress and diet caused ulcer disease. Although ulcer symptoms may be worsened by stress and diet, they are not the cause. Research now shows that nine out of ten ulcers are caused by an infectious bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), and can be cured with antibiotics.
People are unaware that most ulcers are caused by infection and many ulcer patients are suffering needlessly. With antibiotic therapy, there is a greater than 90 percent chance that the ulcer will be gone for good. Even if you’ve had ulcers for years, you could be effectively treated and cured.
In addition to pain, if left untreated, ulcer disease can cause life-threatening complications such as bleeding, perforation with spreading infection throughout the abdomen and obstruction which prevents food from passing through.
The prevalence and severity of ulcer disease generally increases with age. Older people are most likely to have ulcers but the first onset of symptoms for many may begin around age 35.
If you experience stomach pain within a few hours after eating or in the middle of the night, you should see a doctor.