Myths about heartburn and peptic ulcers

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Many of the remedies proposed in olden days for heartburn, made matters worse, not better. We look at three popular myths and why they are bad news for you:

Spicy food and stress cause stomach ulcers

False.
The truth is, almost all stomach ulcers are caused either by infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or by use of pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen - the so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Most H. pylori-related ulcers can be cured with antibiotics. NSAID-induced ulcers can be cured with time, stomach-protective medications, antacids, and avoidance of NSAIDs.

Spicy food and stress may aggravate ulcer symptoms in some people, but they do not cause ulcers.

Smoking a cigarette helps relieve heartburn

False.
Actually, cigarette smoking may contribute to heartburn.

Heartburn occurs when the lower oesophageal sphincter - the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach - relaxes, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to splash back into the oesophagus. Cigarette smoking may cause the sphincter to relax.

A bit of undiluted vinegar will put an end to heartburn

False. If you're suffering from heartburn, drinking vinegar is just about the worst thing you can do. Consumption of vinegar will increase, not decrease, the acid levels in your stomach.

Long-term consumption of vinegar will cause diarrhoea and can do damage to your stomach lining.

Read more:

Are you at risk for peptic ulcers?
Heartburn for supper

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