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A peptic ulcer is a sore that forms in the lining of the stomach or the beginning of the small intestines, called the duodenum. Ulcers are common, affecting an estimated 25 million Americans.

Contrary to popular belief, ulcers are not due to stress and diet. A bacterial infection brought on by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the cause of the majority of all stomach ulcers. Prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, which affect the stomach's ability to protect itself from acidic stomach juices, also may lead to ulcers.

Our Approach to Ulcers

UCSF delivers compassionate, comprehensive care for all gastrointestinal conditions, including ulcers. Treatment for an ulcer depends on the underlying cause. Most cases are due to the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, for which we prescribe a course of antibiotics as well as proton pump inhibitors, medications that reduce stomach acid and allow ulcers to heal.

Ulcers caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, often get better on their own once patients stop taking the drugs. If needed, proton pump inhibitors and other medications can help the healing process.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • One of the nation's best in gastroenterology & GI surgery

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.