Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
A peptic ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach or intestine. They may be named by their location:
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Acids that help you break down food can lead to an ulcer. A change to the amount of acid causes damage to the stomach or intestine walls. This is most often caused by:
Less common causes include:
Factors that may increase the chances of a peptic ulcer include:
Peptic ulcers do not always cause symptoms. Symptoms may come and go. Food or fluids may make symptoms better and an empty stomach may make them worse.
Symptoms may include:
Ulcers can cause bleeding. It is rare but heavier bleeding can cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect an ulcer based on your symptoms.
An endoscopy will help to make the diagnosis. A scope will be passed down the throat to view the lining of the stomach.
Other tests may include:
Treatment will depend on the cause. General steps include:
Stomach acid can be managed with:
Medicine related to causes include:
Quit smoking. Smoking worsens symptoms and slows healing.
An endoscopy may help to stop small areas of bleeding.
Surgery may be needed for:
There are different types of surgery. Options include:
To help reduce the chances of H. pylori infection:
To help reduce the chances of a peptic ulcer from NSAIDs:
American College of Gastroenterology
American Gastroenterological Association
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Fashner J, Gitu AC. Diagnosis and treatment of peptic ulcer disease and H. pylori infection. Am Fam Physician. 2015;91(4):236-242.
Peptic ulcer disease. American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: http://patients.gi.org/topics/peptic-ulcer-disease. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Peptic ulcer disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/attachments/6522/All_PepticUlcerDisease_2017.pdf. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Peptic ulcer disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116374/Peptic-ulcer-disease. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Peptic ulcers (stomach ulcers). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/peptic-ulcers-stomach-ulcers. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardNicole S. Meregian, PA Last Updated: 1/26/2021