Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain.
Peptic ulcers include:
⦁ Gastric ulcers that occur on the inside of the stomach
⦁ Duodenal ulcers that occur on the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum)
The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of aspirin and certain other painkillers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, others). Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, they can make your symptoms worse.
⦁ Burning stomach pain
⦁ Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
⦁ Fatty food intolerance
The most common peptic ulcer symptom is burning stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse, as does having an empty stomach. The pain can often be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication, but then it may come back. The pain may be worse between meals and at night.
Nearly three-quarters of people with peptic ulcers don’t have symptoms.
Less often, ulcers may cause severe signs or symptoms such as:
⦁ Vomiting or vomiting blood — which may appear red or black
⦁ Dark blood in stools, or stools that are black or tarry
⦁ Trouble breathing
⦁ Feeling faint
⦁ Nausea or vomiting
⦁ Unexplained weight loss
⦁ Appetite changes
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have the severe signs or symptoms listed above. Also see your doctor if over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers relieve your pain but the pain returns.