A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach (a gastric ulcer) or duodenum (a duodenal ulcer).
Peptic ulcers can be cured. First, you should avoid alcohol and quit smoking, since smoking and alcohol can make ulcers worse or slow the healing process. Your doctor may also prescribe medications, depending on what caused the ulcers.
Possible medications include proton pump inhibitors or histamine receptor blockers to reduce stomach acid and protect the stomach lining. One or more antibiotics may be prescribed to kill an H. pylori infection. Other medicines such as Pepto-Bismol may be used to coat the ulcer and protect it from stomach acid.
What causes a peptic ulcer?
The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection from a bacterium called H. pylori or from long-term use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. While they do not cause peptic ulcers, stress and spicy foods can worsen the symptoms of an ulcer. Smoking and consuming alcohol can increase the risk of peptic ulcer.
Are peptic ulcers dangerous?
Peptic ulcers generally heal if you follow treatment guidelines and reduce risk factors, but in some cases, they can lead to complications, like internal bleeding, holes in the stomach wall, and blockage of food moving through the digestive tract. A hole in the stomach wall can lead to serious infections. If your peptic ulcer is a result of H. pylori infection, you may be at increased risk of gastric cancer.
How are peptic ulcers treated?
Peptic ulcers are typically treated through the use of medications, such as antibiotics that treat H. pylori or medications that block the production of acid. Your doctor may also prescribe acid blockers, medications that neutralize acids, or medications that protect the lining in the stomach and small intestine. Surgery is required only in rare cases, as medications usually lead to healing of ulcers.
- “I had heartburn and a burning sensation in my stomach.”
- “I felt extremely full and nauseous after eating, especially when I ate greasy, fatty foods.”
- “I had burning stomach pain and felt bloated. The pain was worse when I had an empty stomach.”