What is peptic ulcer?


Know the basics

What is peptic ulcer?

Peptic ulcer is ulcerative lesions on stomach and duodenum membrane (the first part of intestine). These lesions occur when stomach and duodenum membranes are punctured and the lower tissues are exposed. The lesions in stomach occur as much as 4 times in duodenum.

How common is peptic ulcer?

This health condition is common. It commonly affects older people. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of peptic ulcer?

The common symptoms of peptic ulcer are:

The most common symptom of Peptic ulcer is ache feeling or burn. Pain often occurs in umbilical area and sternum and:

  • Feeling painful when your stomach is empty, such as during meals and at night
  • Stop if you eat or use antibiotics
  • Last few minutes to few hours
  • Come and go in few days, few weeks and few months
  • Other less commons include:
  • Flatulence
  • Belch
  • Uncomfortable in stomach
  • Lose appetite
  • Nausea
  • Lose weight

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Peptic Ulcer will get worse if it is not treated. You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Weak or fatigue
  • Breath heavily
  • Blood or coffee-colored vomiting fluid
  • Blood or black-colored stool
  • Sudden and continuous pain
  • These signs occur when peptic ulcer get worse

Know the causes

What causes peptic ulcer?

Common peptic ulcer causes include:

  • Helicobacter infection in stomach
  • Anticoagulants Aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs such as ibuprofen
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (condition of excessive acid secretion or stomach membrane damage)
  • Tumors in stomach, duodenum or spleen

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for peptic ulcer?

There are many risk factors for peptic ulcer, such as:

  • Smoking: smoking can increase risk of peptic ulcer in H.pylori infected people
  • Alcohol: alcohol can cause irritation and corrosion in stomach membrane and increase of acid secretion

Having no risk factors does not mean you cannot have this disease. These signs are only for reference. You should ask your doctors for more information.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is peptic ulcer diagnosed?

To diagnose Peptic Ulcer, doctors firstly ask your medical history, and take clinical examination. After that, doctors can use other tests, like:

  • Blood test: to check if you have anemia
  • Stool test: to check whether blood in stool
  • EGD: doctors will insert a tube attached with a camera into your mouth to your stomach to check membrane of stomach or the first part of intestine
  • Duodenum X ray: doctors will take X ray after you drink a substance limiting light bari

How is peptic ulcer treated?

Treatment goal is to heal these ulcers to eliminate reoccur symptoms and avoid complications. After treatment, patients often get better within 2 weeks. The disease will reoccur if causes last long

Treatment will depend on the causes. Doctors can prescribe medications reducing stomach acid such as antacids, histamine receptor inhibitors H2 like ranitidine, famotidine or other proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole. Sucralfate is one of other medications which can form protective cover over ulcers to heal them. Antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors or bismuth can be used for H.pylori infection treatment.

If cause of peptic ulcer is using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, doctors can recommend:

  • Stop using
  • Reduce dose
  • Use proton pump inhibitors or histamine receptors inhibitors
  • Switch using other medicines not causing ulcer. 

If medicines are not effective or they cause any complications, you may need surgery. However, surgery has not been used at this time.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage peptic ulcer?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with peptic ulcer:

  • Avoid what can increase risk of peptic ulcer such as Aspirin, NSAID, smoking alcohol
  • Call doctors if you have diarrhea
  • Call doctor if you vomit blood, coffee-colored sputum
  • Cal doctors if you stool have blood or black color
  • Call doctors if you feel weak or pale
  • If treatment are not effective, tell your doctors
  • Besides healthy diets with more vegetable and fruits and cereals, you should know how to manage your stress not to symptoms get worse

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017