For years, millions of people worldwide have lived with sores and holes in their stomach linings, known as stomach ulcers, thinking they can not be cured except by major lifestyle changes. The popular myth is that stress, lifestyle, acid and spicy food can cause ulcers to form. Until recently, sufferers tried eating bland foods, took antacids regularly, or embarked on long-term prescription regimens with drugs like H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors. These drugs relieved symptoms and healed some inflammation but did not address the root cause. And if a patient stopped taking them, the ulcers would return.
In 1982, two Australians found the bacteria Helicobacter pylori in specimens from the stomach lining of ulcer patients. Now, the Center for Disease Control reports that nine out of 10 ulcers are caused solely by H. pylori. Most of the remaining sores are caused by anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. People employed in the most stressful jobs are just as likely to have ulcers as those with the least stressful occupations, and bland foods have no soothing effect for the vast majority of sufferers. Acid-reducing medications can make ulcers feel better, but will not cure the infection.
The best part about this news: if bacteria cause ulcers, antibiotics can cure them, usually permanently. This is great news for the 25 million Americans, men and women, who will suffer from an ulcer in their lifetime. Ulcers send one million people to the hospital each year. And the bacteria can eventually lead to gastric cancer, the second most common form of cancer worldwide.
But the medical community was slow to accept this new development. The National Institute of Health only accepted the association between H. pylori and ulcers in 1994, and recommended antibiotic treatment. A year later, however, 90 percent of ulcer sufferers still blamed stress or diet for their infections. And physicians did, too—about 75 percent of ulcer patients were still treated with the old medications. Only five percent received antibiotics! In 1996, the FDA approved the first antibiotic specifically for stomach ulcers, and the following year the CDC launched an education campaign, which has helped educate the public, as well as physicians, about the real root cause of the infection.
H. pylori infection is detected with an easy blood or saliva test (see www.salv.com for one example). The FDA has approved eight different stomach ulcer treatment options for stomach ulcers. A triple therapy option has been shown to be the most effective, and a 14-day regimen is more successful than a 10-day course of treatment. For more information, you can also call 1-888 -My-Ulcer.