An ulcer is a sore that may form on the lining of the stomach or duodenum. The duodenum is part of the small intestine.

Some people with peptic ulcers have no symptoms. others can have symptoms that include:

  • Pain within the upper belly – Ulcers within the stomach often cause pain soon after an individual eats. Ulcers within the duodenum often cause pain or burning when a person’s stomach is empty.
  • Bloating, or feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Nausea or vomiting

All of those symptoms may be caused by other conditions. But if you have got these symptoms, let your doctor know.

Sometimes, peptic ulcers can result in serious problems. These include:

  • Bleeding – this will cause smelly and black-colored bowel movements or vomiting blood.
  • A hole within the wall of the stomach or duodenum – this will cause sudden and severe belly pain.
  • Obstruction – this is a blockage of the intestine. It can cause a feeling of fullness, bloating, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, belly pain shortly after eating, and weight loss.

Common causes of peptic ulcers include:

  • An infection within the stomach or duodenum caused by a kind of bacteria called “H. pylori”
  • Medicines called “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs include pain-relieving medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
  • Yes. If you have got symptoms of a peptic ulcer, your doctor might do:

    • Tests to test for H. pylori infection – Doctors can check for H. pylori infection by doing:
    • Breath tests – These tests measure substances in a person’s breath after he or she has been given a special liquid to drink
    • Lab tests that check a sample of a bowel movement for the infection
    • A procedure called an “upper endoscopy” – During an upper endoscopy, a doctor puts a thin tube with a camera on the end into an individual’s mouth and down into the stomach and duodenum. Then he or she checks the lining of the stomach and duodenum for ulcers.
     

Treatment depends on the cause, but most peptic ulcers are treated with medicines.

People with H. pylori infection are often treated with 3 or more medicines for two weeks to get rid of the infection. This treatment can include:

  • Medicine to reduce the amount of acid that the stomach makes
  • Different types of antibiotics

Some people need to take medicines that reduce the amount of acid for an extended amount of time. Some people take these medicines for the rest of their life.

It is important to follow all of your doctors’ instructions about taking your medicines. Let your doctor know if you have got any side effects from your medicines.

People who have serious problems from their peptic ulcers might also need to be treated with surgery.

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