Ulcers are a fairly common ailment for many Americans. So common in fact that doctors estimate that one in every ten Americans will be diagnosed with an ulcer in their lifetime. Ulcers are sores of the skin, mucous membranes, or eyes. These sores often become infected and this infection fuels the ulcer. Ulcers are often painful and difficult to cure.
The exact cause of ulcers is unknown. Until the middle of the 1980’s, doctors held the belief that ulcers were caused by stress and poor habits (excess consumption of alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods, and caffeine.) Now, medical professionals have theories for the causes of each type of ulcers. Ulcers of the skin are caused by vascular insufficiency. When the vascular insufficient skin is first infected, it has the inability to heal itself thus leading to an ulcer. Most ulcers of the genitals are sexually transmitted. Peptic ulcers (ulcers formed in the stomach or duodenum) are linked to the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Excess stomach acid secretion can also lead to peptic ulcers.
The main symptom of an ulcer is strong and sharp stomach pain. Other symptoms include: nausea, loss of appetite, frequent burping, bloating, heartburn, vomiting, sudden weight loss, or bloody, tarry, or blackish bowel movements. Symptoms of skin ulcers include swelling, hardening of the skin; blisters; and a loss of skin.