Peptic Ulcer: What You Need to Know

Peptic Ulcer Causes and Symptoms

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inner lining of the stomach (gastric ulcer) and the duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine) and the most significant symptom is a pain in the stomach.

The most important cause of peptic ulcers is a bacterial infection with a certain bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori, along with the prolonged use of aspirin and certain other pain killers such as ibuprofen and sodium naproxen. Contrary to common belief, stress and spicy food do not cause ulcers, but they make the symptoms worse.

Peptic Ulcer Symptoms

  • Burning pain in the stomach
  • Sensation of fullness, bloating or belching.
  • Intolerance to greasy foods.
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea

One of the most significant symptoms is a burning pain in the stomach, which is made worse by the acidic stomach secretions and also by an empty stomach. This pain can be relieved with some foods that neutralize the stomach’s acidity, but it tends to recur. The pain is worse between meals and at night. It’s worth mentioning that 3 out of 4 people with ulcer don’t suffer from any symptoms. Some cases, however, are accompanied by severe symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting and/or bloody vomit, which can have a red or black color.
  • Dark stool or dark blood in the stool
  • A fainting feeling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in appetite

When you should see a doctor: Whenever any of these symptoms appear you need to see your physician as soon as possible. If using non-prescription anti-acids relieves the pain for a short time before it comes back then this is also a red flag for seeing a physician.

 

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