Does Stress Cause Duodenal and Stomach Ulcers?

It’s clear that stress can cause both emotional and physical problems, but does it also can trigger or even cause peptic ulcers (either duodenal or stomach ulcers)? The answer is still debatable, but most experts believe that there may be a link between both conditions. The question is how far this emotional health condition in affecting problems of digestive system!

Gastric and duodenal ulcers – what actually are they?

They belong into a group of digestive problems medically called as peptic ulcers. They are open sores that affect certain lining of digestive organs. While duodenal ulcer affects the duodenum (the first part of small intestine), gastric ulcer develops in the lining of stomach – as their names imply.

There are several common symptoms of these digestive problems, but abdominal pain is typically the most common symptom that occurs. Other signs may include nausea & vomiting, changes of weight (especially weight loss), loss of appetite or decreased appetite, and other abdominal discomforts.

The treatment is dependent on the cause of inflammation. If doctors believe that your ulcer is caused by certain bacteria, some antibiotics can be prescribed to kill the bacteria and cure the infection. Nevertheless, this digestive disease tends to reoccur if not treated completely. See also the prognosis and outlook of this disease on this section!

The link between stress and digestive problems

There are a lot of nerves (million nerves) called the enteric nervous system that control mechanisms of digestion. Some experts believe that stress can be potential to affect many parts of digestive system, including these nerves.

Hormones of stress can trigger the body to activate the fight-response in the nervous system. As a result, the blood flow is affected which then also affects the contractions of muscles that control the digestive system. This can trigger some digestive problems such as abdominal discomforts, abdominal pain, bloating, and so on.

stress_and_ulcer_illustrationStress also can be potential to worsen the infection that occurs in the digestive system. Therefore, it is often reported can make the symptoms of digestive problems (such as spastic colon /IBS, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, etc) get worse!

Moreover, this emotional problem may also trigger the excessive production of acid in the stomach and cause the esophagus /throat go into spasms. Sometime it can affect the way of colon to work. For instance, some students who are going to take a test for graduation can experience a sudden diarrhea with unknown reason.

Does stress cause ulcers?

Before going to jump directly to the answer, you may wonder about the reason of why this disease can occur!

The exact causes of ulcers

Several years ago – spicy foods, excessive consumption of caffeine, and lifestyle stress were thought and considered as the causes of peptic ulcers. But today it’s known that most cases of the disease (almost 90 percent) are actually triggered and caused by the infection of bacteria called H-Pylori (Helicobacter Pylori).

However, there are also a few cases that occur due to other factors. In other words, not all people with H-pylori infection develop ulcers or have the symptoms of the disease. This is still not fully understood.

The use of certain pain killers may also cause the disease. In fact, the disease is relatively more common in elderly people. And as well we know, the use of pain killers is pretty common in older adults than in younger adults.

Furthermore, certain medications to treat osteoporosis such as bisphosphonates may also increase the risk of developing inflammation /open sores on the walls of gastric and duodenum.

So, does uncontrolled stress trigger and cause ulcers?

It’s clear that stress can worsen the symptoms of peptic ulcers – many studies have confirmed this issue. But, does it also can increase your risk of the disease? Does it cause inflammation /open sores on the inside lining of gastric or duodenum?

Unfortunately, there is still no scientific evidence to confirm the role of stress in causing ulcers. In other words, this issue is not fully understood yet.