Why do ulcers form?

Ulcers are wounds that develop in many parts of the gastro-intestinal tract including the stomach and the intestines.  Depending on the location that they develop, ulcerations that occur in the stomach are called gastric ulcers while those that develop in the duodenum are called duodenal ulcers.  Generally, some people refer to any ulcers in the gastro-intestinal tract as peptic ulcers.

There are different reasons why ulcers form in the gastrointestinal tract but infection with H. pylori bacteria is considered the most common.  This particular bacterium is said to be responsible for most reported cases of ulcers in the stomach or intestinal areas.  H. pylori has the ability to stay in the mucosal lining of the stomach or intestines despite the presence of gastric acid.  This bacterium basically attacks the mucosal lining in the gastrointestinal tract causing its weakening.  And with the weakening of the mucosal lining, the stomach or intestines for example will no longer have protection against the acidity of the gastric juices.  Sores and wounds called ulcers will then form in many parts of the gastrointestinal tract when there is not enough mucus to protect against gastric acids.

Aside from h. pylori infection, there are also cases wherein some people have over secretion of gastric acids.  When this condition happens, too much acid will eventually weaken the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract and lead to ulcerations.  There are also cases wherein there is just not enough mucus production to counter the effect of gastric acids. Some people also believe that improper diet and stress may also contribute to the formation of ulcers.  Both of these conditions are known to help increase the production of gastric acids which further increases the likelihood of ulcer development in various parts of the gastro-intestinal tract.  Regardless of the cause of ulcerations though, most people are given anti-acid medications to treat the symptoms associated with peptic ulcers.  Some people may also be advised diet modification while others may need more intensive treatments.

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