No one's immune from occasional upset stomachs, and nearly 40% of us will likely struggle with more serious digestive disorders like ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The good news is that doctors and scientists are constantly learning new things about the many complex diseases that affect our stomachs. So although tummy aches will continue to plague us, separating myth from fact about these nagging pains will shorten the time it takes to find relief.
Fact: While it's true that certain foods aggravate ulcers, they don't cause them. In up to 95% of cases, a gastrointestinal bacterium called Helicobacter pylori is to blame. One of every two people catch this bug by the time they're 60, though most never know it. (It's thought to be spread through person-to-person contact like kissing or consuming contaminated food or water.) Just 10% of people develop ulcers. Research shows you have a greater likelihood of being plagued by these stomach sores if you regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). So if you need constant pain relief, consider switching to acetaminophen.