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.
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.
In 95 percent of cases, treatment with antibiotics of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori will prevent the formation of duodenal ulcers. Antibiotic treatment has the added advantage that it prevents recurrence, unlike many of the more expensive drug treatments currently used.