When To Seek Medical Advice
You should visit your GP if you think you may have a stomach ulcer.
Contact your GP or NHS 111 immediately if:
- you are passing dark, sticky, tar-like stools
- you have a sudden, sharp pain in your tummy that gets steadily worse
Go to your nearest accident and emergency department or call 999 if:
- you are vomiting blood the blood can appear bright red or have a dark brown, grainy appearance, similar to coffee grounds
These could be a sign of a serious complication, such as internal bleeding.
When Should I Go To Er
Seek emergency care if you have:
- Severe pain that doesnt go away.
- Signs of blood in your poop or bloody vomit.
- Signs of severe blood loss, such as paleness and faintness.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Stomach ulcers are common and treatable, but they should be taken seriously. Even when they dont cause symptoms, they arent a good sign. A stomach ulcer means that your natural stomach acid is overwhelming your protective stomach lining. Thats a situation that can only get worse if it isnt managed. Lifestyle changes may help, but youll still need to treat the underlying cause. Its probably either NSAID use or a common bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider can help prescribe the right medicines for your condition.
Signs You May Have An Ulcer
Did you know that stomach ulcers also called peptic ulcers affect at least 1 in 10 Americans over the course of their lives? And while stomach ulcers can be treated easily when caught early, lack of medical care can lead to serious complications.
Understanding the signs of stomach ulcers is important in helping you get the treatment you need. At Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our care team has the experience and knowledge to diagnose and treat stomach ulcers. Weve curated this guide to help you recognize the warning signs of an ulcer and understand what you can do about it.
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Early Warning Signs And Symptoms
Although a perforation may be the first indication of peptic ulcer disease, most people with this condition experience milder symptoms in the days or weeks leading up to the perforation. Pain between the breastbone and the navel may occur when the stomach is empty, and might be relieved with antacids. The pain may come and go, and is often worse at night. Dark, tarry bowel movements or vomiting material that resembles coffee grounds may signal bleeding from a peptic ulcer.
- Although a perforation may be the first indication of peptic ulcer disease, most people with this condition experience milder symptoms in the days or weeks leading up to the perforation.
- Pain between the breastbone and the navel may occur when the stomach is empty, and might be relieved with antacids.
Symptoms And Signs Of Peptic Ulcer Causes And Treatment Options
The signs of peptic ulcer must be recognized in time, so that you get an adequate treatment. Learn them and report them to your doctor immediately!
The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is found in more than 90% of cases of peptic ulcer. Learn why and how, and make sure you prevent this from happening to you.
Peptic ulcer is a lesion with loss of substance from the gastroduodenal mucosa. Although the incidence of peptic ulcer disease is decreasing, it still affects a large part of the population.
Helicobacter pylori is found in more than 90% of cases of peptic ulcer. It is a type of bacteria that causes infections in the stomach.
The ulcer is found in approximately two thirds of the worlds population. It is possible that it is transmitted through contaminated water and food.
Causes of peptic ulcer
Most ulcers are produced by an imbalance between the aggressive and defensive agents of the gastroduodenal mucosa. This imbalance is secondary to infection by Helicobacter pylori or the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
In cases of peptic ulcer that present Helicobacter, eradication of the bacteria will reduce recurrence. However, only between 10 and 20% of people infected by Helicobacter pylori will develop at some point a peptic ulcer.
When there is a chronic use of NSAIDs, 50% of these people will present superficial gastric lesions. In addition, ulcers in these cases are usually asymptomatic.
The risk factors for peptic ulcer in people who consume NSAIDs are:
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Burning Pain In The Abdomen
Persistent burning pain in the abdomen is one of the first signs of a stomach ulcer. The sensation of pain occurs when juices in the stomach, which help in digestion, come into contact with an open sore in the stomach lining.
In most cases, the pain is felt from the breast bone to the navel, and it often worsens during the night. If you skip meals, particularly breakfast, you may also experience this burning sensation in the stomach during the daytime.
If the dull and burning ache of the ulcer often turns into a sharp, stabbing pain, it is a sign that your ulcer is acting up and you need medical help. It could mean that the ulcer has caused a more critical problem like a perforation in the wall of your stomach or intestine, or a blockage in your digestive tract, and it is triggering intense pain.
How Is A Peptic Ulcer Treated
Some peptic ulcers heal on their own. But if you donât treat them, the ulcers tend to come back.
They can erode the blood vessel wall in your stomach or small intestine. The ulcers also can eat a hole through the lining and get infected. Or they can cause swelling, which may block food from moving from your stomach into your small intestine.
If H. pylori is the culprit, your doctor may prescribe a mix of antibiotics to kill it. If aspirin and other NSAIDs are behind the ulcer, you may need to cut down on them, stop taking them altogether, or switch to another pain reliever.
Your doctor may also give you antacids to fight stomach acid, or prescribe medicine to lessen the acid your body makes. Prescription drugs called cytoprotective agents can help protect the lining of the stomach or small intestine so the ulcer can heal.
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What Causes Duodenal Ulcers
Your stomach makes a strong acid that helps you digest food and kills germs. The cells of the stomach and duodenum make a barrier from mucus, to protect themselves against this acid. If the mucus barrier is damaged, an ulcer can form.
The main cause of this damage is infection with bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori. The bacteria can cause the lining of your duodenum to become inflamed and an ulcer can form.
Some medications can also cause duodenal ulcers, particularly anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin. It is rare that other medicines or medical conditions cause an ulcer.
There are some lifestyle factors that may make you more likely to get a duodenal ulcer, such as:
However, these things are less important than infection with H. pylori.
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What Tests Are There For A Stomach Ulcer
If your doctor thinks you may have a stomach ulcer, the initial tests will include some blood tests. These tests will help to check whether you have become anaemic because of any bleeding from the ulcer. The blood test will also check to see that your liver and pancreas are working properly.
The main tests that are then used to diagnose a stomach ulcer are as follows:
- A test to detect the H. pylori germ is usually done if you have a stomach ulcer. The H. pylori bacterium can be detected in a sample of stool , or in a ‘breath test’, or from a blood test, or from a biopsy sample taken during a gastroscopy. See the separate leaflet called Helicobacter Pylori for more details.
- Gastroscopy is the test that can confirm a stomach ulcer. Gastroscopy is usually done as an outpatient ‘day case’. You may be given a sedative to help you to relax. In this test, a doctor looks inside your stomach by passing a thin, flexible telescope down your gullet . The doctor will then be able to see any inflammation or ulcers in your stomach.
- Small samples are usually taken of the tissue in and around the ulcer during gastroscopy. These are sent to the laboratory to be looked at under the microscope. This is important because some ulcers are caused by stomach cancer. However, most stomach ulcers are not caused by cancer.
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How Do Nonsteroidal Anti
NSAIDS are a type of medication used often for headaches, period pains, and other pains. They can also help reduce fever and inflammation. Examples include aspirin and ibuprofen. Many NSAIDs are available without a prescription.
They lower the stomachs ability to make a protective layer of mucus. This it more susceptible to damage by stomach acid. NSAIDs can also affect the flow of blood to the stomach, reducing the bodys ability to repair cells.
What Are The Symptoms Of Any Complications
Stomach ulcers can cause various complications but these are much less common now because of more effective treatments. However, complications can be very serious and include:
Bleeding from the ulcer
- This can range from a ‘trickle’ to a life-threatening bleed.
- If there is sudden heavy bleeding then this will cause you to vomit blood and make you feel very faint.
- Less sudden bleeding may cause you to vomit and the vomit looks coffee-coloured because the stomach acid has partly broken down the blood.
- A more gradual trickle of blood will pass through your gut and cause your stools to look very dark in colour or even black .
PerforationThis is the term used to describe the ulcer having gone all the way through the wall of the stomach. Food and acid in the stomach then leak out of the stomach. This usually causes severe pain and makes you very unwell. Stomach perforation is a medical emergency and needs hospital treatment as soon as possible.
Stomach blockageThis is now rare. An ulcer at the end of the stomach can cause the outlet of the stomach to narrow and cause an obstruction. This can cause frequent severe vomiting.
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How Are Stomach Ulcers Treated
Ulcers can heal if they are given a rest from the factors that created them. Healthcare providers treat uncomplicated ulcers with a combination of medicines to reduce stomach acid, coat and protect the ulcer during healing and kill any bacterial infection that may be involved. Medicines may include:
- Antibiotics. If H. pylori was found in your digestive tract, your healthcare provider will prescribe some combination of antibiotics to kill the bacteria, based on your medical history and condition. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include tetracycline, metronidazole, clarithromycin and amoxicillin.
- Proton pump inhibitors . These drugs help reduce stomach acid and protect your stomach lining. PPIs include esomeprazole,dexlansoprazole,lansoprazole, omeprazole,pantoprazole and rabeprazole.
- Histamine receptor blockers . These reduce stomach acid by blocking the chemical that tells your body to produce it . H2 blockers include famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine.
- Antacids. These common over-the-counter medicines help to neutralize stomach acid. They may bring some symptom relief, but they arent enough to heal your ulcer. They also might interfere with some antibiotics.
- Cytoprotective agents. These medicines help to coat and protect your stomach lining. They include sucralfate and misoprostol.
- Bismuth Subsalicylate. This over-the-counter medicine, commonly found as Pepto-Bismol, can help coat and protect your ulcer from stomach acid.
Causes Of Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers happen when theres damage to the layer that protects the stomach lining from the acids in your stomach.
This is usually a result of:
- an infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- taking anti-inflammatory medicines , such as ibuprofen or aspirin particularly if they’re taken for a long time or at high doses
It used to be thought that stress or certain foods might cause stomach ulcers, but there’s little evidence to suggest this is the case.
Stomach ulcers can affect anyone but are more common in people aged 60 or over. Men are more affected than women.
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What Causes Stomach Ulcers
The two most common causes are:
- H. pylori infection. This common bacterial infection affects up to half of people worldwide. It primarily lives in the stomach. In many people, it doesnt seem to cause problems. Their gut immune systems keep it in check. But a portion of those infected have H. pylori overgrowth. The bacteria continue to multiply, eating into the stomach lining and causing chronic inflammation and peptic ulcer disease. H. pylori infection is associated with about 60% of duodenal ulcers and 40% of gastric ulcers.
- Overuse of NSAIDs. NSAID stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.” These include common over-the-counter pain relief medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. NSAIDs contribute to ulcers in several ways. They irritate the stomach lining on contact and repress some of the chemicals that defend and repair the mucous lining. Up to 30% of people who take NSAIDs regularly develop peptic ulcers. Up to 50% of all peptic ulcers are caused by the overuse of NSAIDs.
Less common causes of stomach ulcers include:
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. This is a rare condition that causes your stomach to produce too much gastric acid.
- Severe physiological stress. Severe illness, burns or injuries can produce stress ulcers in the stomach. Physiological stress changes your bodys PH balance, increasing stomach acid. Stress ulcers develop very quickly in response to stress, unlike normal stomach ulcers that develop gradually.
Peptic Ulcer Disease Symptoms Signs
Peptic Ulcer Disease Symptoms Signs. For the diagnosis, it is important to have information about the. Stomach pain alone may not be peptic ulcer disease. The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the middle of your abdomen between your chest and belly button. The primary symptom of peptic ulcer is upper abdominal pain.
Less often, ulcers can cause serious signs and symptoms, including: Many people with peptic ulcers particularly complain of pain on an empty stomach. Pain radiating to the back burning or gnawing feeling similar to hunger pains
The primary symptom of peptic ulcer is upper abdominal pain. The most common symptom is a burning sensation or pain in the middle of your abdomen between your chest and belly button. Symptoms of peptic ulcer disease may be similar to other upper gastrointestinal conditions.
Beyond feeling nausea, some patients vomit as well, especially vomit that is bloody or resembles coffee grounds due to the peptic ulcer, so keep a watch out for these signs too. An aching in the middle of the night when the stomach is empty Bloating burping feeling sick to your stomach poor appetite vomiting weight loss
Ad reveal why these stomach ulcer signs are so important to know right now. Bloating, heartburn, nausea, pain, & more. Stomach pain alone may not be peptic ulcer disease.
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Signs Of Abdomen Perforation
One other uncommon and probably life-threatening complication of an ulcer is the perforation of the wall of the abdomen or duodenum. This creates a gap between the abdomen and the stomach cavity and carries with it a excessive danger of an infection. A perforation presents in sudden and intense stomach ache and tenderness. The most typical symptom of an infection is a fever. ake1150sb / Getty Photographs
Common Warning Signs Of Ulcers
Ulcers are a common medical issue that affects about one in ten people in America. They occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. The acid can create a painful open sore that may bleed. You can get them anywhere on your body for any reason, but the most common form of ulcers occur in your stomach.
Although there is no single cause for an ulcer, many factors can increase your risk of stomach ulcers including painkillers, excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking tobacco. Luckily, ulcers are easy to treat once you recognize the symptoms of them. Here are five common signs of a stomach ulcer:
Abdominal Pain: A burning sensation may occur in your stomach. The pain will come and go in waves and is often accompanied by bloating. Many may confuse this feeling with acid reflux or other similar diseases. If the abdominal pain starts after you eat, keeps you up at night, and lasts a prolonged period it might be an ulcer.
Nausea: Due to the imbalance in your digestive system, mild to severe nausea may occur, either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or after eating. Because of nausea that will occur, rapid weight loss also comes in conjunction with it as well.
Bloating: A feeling of heaviness and fullness can occur in the stomach, usually the same feeling you get after drinking a full glass of water.
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Deterrence And Patient Education
Patients with peptic ulcer disease should be counseled about potentially injurious agents like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , aspirin, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. If it is necessary to use NSAIDs use the lowest possible dose and also consider prophylaxis for patients who use NSAIDs. Obesity has a strong association with peptic ulcer disease, and patients should be asked to lose weight. Stress reduction counseling can be helpful in some cases.