BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.
Could you have an ulcer? You might, even if you're not the stereotypical overachieving Type A. What most people don't know is that they're usually caused by an infectious agent, not by reading or worrying about financial reports. There are plenty of other misconceptions about ulcers, too. Let this true-or-false quiz help you separate myth from fact (and help you tame that ulcer, if you have one!):
1. You can get an ulcer by kissing. True or False?
True! The most common cause of ulcers is a bacterium called H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori, if you want to get formal). When you kiss, you can ping-pong the bacteria back and forth between you and your partner until you both get treated for — and rid of — it, at the same time.
2. If you have an ulcer, you'll feel worse after eating. True or False?
False. One of the ways to know whether it's an ulcer or the recurring heartburn problem known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is that eating often makes ulcers feel better because food neutralizes some of the stomach acid that's irritating the ulcer.
3. If you can stand the pain, you don't have to get it treated. True or False?
False. You shouldn't be living with any kind of pain, and sometimes the ulcer erodes multiple layers of your stomach and causes bleeding within your digestive tract. Not pretty.
In some studies, olive oil has looked promising as a way to kill off H. pylori — but that's only in a test tube so far. The best treatment for it today is to see your doctor for a course of antibiotics tailored to that bad bug.
The YOU Docs — Mike Roizen and Mehmet Oz — are authors of "YOU: Being Beautiful — The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty." To submit questions and find ways to grow younger and healthier, go to www.RealAge.com, the docs' online home.