Stomach ulcers are sores formed in the lining of the upper intestinal tract. But reasons of ulcers still give birth to various arguments. Since the mid 1800s it was thought that stomach ulcers are caused by stress. So patients were given antidepressants and tranquillisers. They were also suggested to visit hot springs. After a while the idea shifted to spicy foods and stress being two causes. But no study ever proved that emotional stress or spicy food directly caused ulcers. Within 20th century it was widely accepted that stomach acids caused ulcers. They were even called “Acid Mafia”. But now we do know stomach acid causes the rarest types of ulcers which make up to only 1%.
But ulcers can be caused by bacteria as well. This idea was proposed by Dr. Barry Marshall and he was ridiculed by other renowned physicians at that time. His patients were mostly suffering from ulcers. He thought it was caused by some bacterial infection. To prove his theory he ingested the bacterial isolates collected from his patients. As a result he felt sick, vomited, suffered abdominal pain like his patients and developed gastritis which was actually severe stomach infection. With the help of an endoscope and other tests he found out his stomach was infected with the same bacteria as his patients. Most importantly gastritis is the hallmark precursor of ulcer. His idea challenged the age old conceptions of food, acid and stress causing ulcers. But he and Dr. Robin Warren proved the reason of ulcers can be a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. For which both of them receive Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Dr. Marshall took a huge risk to save millions of people suffering from ulcers as the reasons were not clear. Since a bacteria was causing it, a certain course of antibiotics is able to cure ulcers. Still there can be other reasons unravelled. But withe the vast development of science a lot of things are possible. For more check this TedEd video about The suprising causes of Ulcers and see the amazing animation with many information.
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