Stomach Ulcer | Peptic Ulcer

Stomach ulcers can be painful and lead to other health issues. They do not have to be left untreated. MaineHealth can give patients different options to treat stomach ulcers and carry on without worrying about stomach pain.

What are stomach ulcers?

A stomach ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. Stomach acid can break down the lining of the stomach and cause inflammation and ulcers. Stomach ulcers are dangerous if they perforate through the lining of the stomach or if they cause significant bleeding.

Get immediate medical attention if you:

  • Have a stomach ulcer and develop a sharp and sudden pain
  • Have stools that are dark and tarry or bloody
  •  Start vomiting blood.

Most people can get bacterial stomach infections caused by the H. pylori bacteria.

But not everyone who is exposed to H. pylori gets stomach ulcers.

Radiation exposure can cause complications with the stomach lining and lead to ulcers.

Certain behaviors can increase the risk of developing stomach ulcers:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Using tobacco products

Stomach ulcer symptoms

People with stomach ulcers can experience a dull or burning pain in the upper abdomen. This pain can come and go for days or months.

Other stomach ulcer symptoms include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Overall ill feeling
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting

Be sure to contact your primary care provider if you are experiencing stomach ulcer symptoms.

Screening and diagnosing stomach ulcers

Patients will undergo a physical exam and should tell their doctor if they regularly take NSAIDs, drink, or smoke. Blood, stool or breath tests may be done to rule out certain infections. Other tests can include:

  • Barium swallow
  • Endoscopy
  • Endoscopic Biopsy
Most stomach ulcers can be treated with medication, though sometimes surgery is required. Ulcers that are bleeding may require a hospital stay. Sometimes, a blood transfusion is needed.