A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach or duodenum. The duodenum is the first part of your small intestine. A peptic ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer. One that is in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer. A peptic ulcer also may develop just above your stomach in the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. But most peptic ulcers develop in the stomach or duodenum.
Most peptic ulcers are caused by:
- Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) is a germ that causes infection
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofin
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can cause peptic ulcers.H. pylori is the most common cause of peptic ulcers. Doctors think H. pylori may be spread through unclean food or water or by mouth-to-mouth contact, such as kissing. Even though many people have an H. pylori infection, most of them never develop an ulcer.Use of NSAIDs is the second most common cause of peptic ulcers. But not everyone who takes NSAIDs gets a peptic ulcer. Ulcers caused by NSAIDs are more often found in people who
- are age 60 or older
- are female
- have taken NSAIDs for a long time
- have never had an ulcer before
A dull burning pain in your stomach is the most common symptom of peptic ulcers. You may feel the pain anywhere between your belly button and breastbone. The pain often:
- starts between meals or during the night
- briefly stops if you eat or take antacids
- lasts of minutes to hours
- comes and goes for several days or weeks
Other symptoms of peptic ulcers may include:
- weight loss
- poor appetite
- feeling sick to your stomach
Tell one of our board certified physicians about your symptoms and which medications you take. Be sure to mention those medications you take that do not require a prescription, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other similar over-the-counter medications. These medications are known as NSAIDs.
To see if you have an H. pylori infection, your board certified physician will test your blood, breath, or stool. About half of all people who develop an ulcer from NSAIDs also have an H. pylori infection.
Your board certified physician may want to look inside your stomach and duodenum by doing an endoscopy or an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series – a type of x-ray. Both of these procedures are painless and can be performed at our Premier Endoscopy Center located on the second floor of our office building.