A stomach ulcer—also known as a peptic or gastric ulcer—is a small sore that develops in the lining of the stomach.
It’s a common condition that affects millions of People.
Symptoms can be mild, but left untreated, a stomach ulcer can become serious and may require surgery. In extreme cases, complications from a stomach ulcer can even be fatal. That’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms.
This is the most common symptom of a stomach ulcer. Typically, this pain occurs at night or between meals, when your stomach is empty. Food, liquids and antacids can often temporarily relieve this pain. It can come and go, and it can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
Many peptic ulcers are caused by infection with H. pylori, a common but potentially harmful bacterium. Too much bacteria in your small intestine can lead to bloating from excess production of gas. If your doctor diagnoses you with an H. pylori stomach ulcer, you’ll receive a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics offer a very good chance of a cure.
A peptic ulcer can cause an upset stomach. If you see red blood in your vomit, or if your vomit has the appearance and consistency of coffee grounds, that could be an indication your ulcer has gotten worse.
In serious cases, peptic ulcers can cause a blockage in your digestive system, as chronic inflammation swells the opening of the stomach until it closes. This can prevent food from moving through your stomach and into your small intestine, leading to weight loss. You may also have weight loss due to a decrease in appetite.
If the dull, burning ache from your ulcer turns into a sharp pain, see your doctor right away. This could mean that the ulcer has caused a more serious problem, like a perforation in the wall of your stomach or intestine, or a blockage in your digestive tract.
Know Your Risks
Some people have an elevated risk for developing stomach ulcers. These include people who:
Drink alcohol to excess
Smoke cigarettes or use tobacco
Have had a peptic ulcer in the past or have a family history of ulcers
Have multiple medical conditions
Regularly take two or more nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin
Take steroids or other drugs to increase bone mass