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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Peptic Ulcer Disease

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The more you know about your health, the better prepared you are to make informed healthcare decisions. Our health library gives you the information you need to take charge of your health.

Stop Smoking

Now that Helicobacter pylori has been identified as a major cause of peptic ulcers, the usefulness of making certain lifestyle changes has been called into question. Still, some lifestyle changes may decrease your production of stomach acid, decrease your susceptibility to peptic ulcers, and help you control your symptoms. Smoking cessation is considered essential in reducing the development and symptoms of peptic ulcers.

  • Stop smoking
  • Don’t abuse alcohol

Some studies show that cigarette smokers have a higher risk of peptic ulcers. These studies have also shown that ulcers in cigarette smokers heal more slowly and have a greater chance of recurring. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to help yourself stop.

Heavy alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of peptic ulcers. Drinking alcohol while you are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can greatly increase your risk of stomach irritation and peptic ulcer development. Alcohol may also worsen your symptoms if you already have a peptic ulcer.

Always call your doctor if:

  • Symptoms don’t improve or recur with treatment
  • Symptoms get worse despite treatment
  • You notice new symptoms.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2014 -
  • Update Date: 05/08/2014 -
  • H. pylori and peptic ulcers. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori/index.aspx. Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Meurer LN, Bower DJ. Management of Helicobacter pylori infection. Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(7):1327-36.

  • Peptic ulcer disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Understanding peptic ulcer disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/peptic-ulcer-disease. Published April 23, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2013.