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What Are Peptic Ulcers?

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

By Dillon Lim - Medicine Student @ Brasenose College, Oxford


Peptic ulcers are breaks in the gastric or duodenal epithelium that present with symptoms of a burning ache in the abdomen, which worsens on an empty stomach, often with nausea, burping (eructation) and bloating. It was once thought that peptic ulcers were simply caused by lifestyle factors, most popularly stress. However, thanks to the revolutionary work of Barry Marshall and Robin Warren (the 2005 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine), we now know that the vast majority of peptic ulcers are in fact caused by a pathogen – Helicobacter pylori, a fact once inconceivable to the scientific community.