Ulcers are holes or breaks in the protective lining the upper part of the small intestine or stomach that come into contact with stomach acids and enzymes.
While in the past people believed ulcers to be caused by stress, new research confirms that bacterial infection is the main cause. However, overuse of over-the-counter painkillers, heavy alcohol use, psychological stress, and smoking may promote the development of ulcers.
Typically, ulcers are treated non-surgically by H2 receptor blockers, blocking the use of NSAIDs, probiotics or a bismuth supplement. Surgery can be used in very rare circumstances.