Gastric, duodenal or peptic ulcer is a chronic disease characterized by the formation of ulcerations in the stomach or duodenal wall. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is an important cause of peptic ulcers. It can occur in contaminated drinking water.
Research shows that curing an ulcer takes less time and costs less than one-tenth the amount of treating it over a lifetime. The most extreme treatment, vagotomy or ulcer surgery, costs approximately US$17,000 and requires 307 days of treatment over a 15-year period. Maintenance therapy with medications to block acid production costs approximately $11,000 and requires 187 days of treatment over 15 years. This approach merely treats the symptoms rather than curing the ulcer. Antibiotic therapy takes 17 days and costs less than $1,000. In 90 percent of patients, the ulcer is cured and does not recur.
In 1989, ulcer disease cost nearly $6 billion in the USA in direct costs of treatment and indirect costs due to work and productivity loss. This comprised: hospitalization (physician's fee not included), $2.66 billion; Out-patient care, $1.62 billion; and Work loss, $1.37 billion.
Millions of people take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs drugs for for arthritis, however, the drugs can cause painful ulcers and dangerous gastrointestinal bleeding. An estimated 16,500 people die each year in the USA from that type of side effect, with risks higher for people who take the drugs long term.