Medical Q&As

Peptic ulcer - smoking related?

Three years ago I gave up smoking and my peptic ulcer disappeared. However, I recently began to smoke again and feel that dreadful pain returning in my upper abdomen. Is it the ulcer recurring or could it be something else?

It is quite likely that your ulcer has recurred. Most cases of peptic ulceration are due to infection with H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) but some evidence suggests that smoking can increase a personís risk of becoming infected with this particular bacterium. Other research has suggested that smoking can increase the amount of acid being secreted by the stomach, which can lead to ulceration due to the corrosive effect of the acid. Further research has suggested that smoking reduces the amount of sodium bicarbonate that is produced by the pancreas, which interferes with the neutralisation of gastric acid in the duodenum. In other words the sensitive lining of the duodenum is exposed to strong acid which should have been reduced in its degree of acidity by the bicarbonate. Researchers generally agree that smokers are more prone to developing ulcers and that people with ulcers heal mores lowly in response to effective medication while they continue to smoke.