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St. Petersburg General Hospital

Reducing Your Risk of Peptic Ulcer Disease

Since peptic ulcers are sometimes caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori, you should follow hygienic practice to decrease your risk of becoming infected. Be sure to:

  • Wash hands well and regularly.
  • Avoid contact with other people’s vomit or stool.
  • Wear gloves if you must clean up after someone. Afterwards, wash your hands well.
  • Drink only water known to be clean.

Smoking has been associated with the development of peptic ulcers because ulcers that do form are slower to heal. If you are a smoker, talk with your doctor about programs that can help you quit.

Overuse of alcohol, especially in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or smoking, is associated with an increased risk of peptic ulcers. Nonsteroidal drugs are definitely proven causes of ulcers, but the causal role of alcohol remains somewhat uncertain, especially in combination with smoking. Smoking and drinking increase inflammation and acid production, which may put you at risk for an ulcer. If you can’t stop drinking on your own, contact your doctor for help and support.

If you need to use pain medications, your doctor may recommend using something other than an NSAID. Try not to take NSAIDs on a regular basis, Instead, only use them when necessary and as directed. Take the lowest dose possible to to get the desired effect.

If you have a medical condition that requires you to take large doses of NSAIDs, ask your doctor about using medications like sodium sucralfate, omeprazole, or misoprostol to help protect your stomach against ulcers.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
  • Review Date: 06/2016 -
  • Update Date: 05/20/2015 -
  • 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: Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Peptic ulcer disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Understanding peptic ulcer disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: Accessed April 29, 2013.