Peptic Ulcers: Symptoms, Treatment


Peptic ulcers are open sores developing on the inside lining of your stomach or the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum). According to different locations, peptic ulcers can be divided into two types:

  • Gastric ulcers (on the inside of the stomach)
  • Duodenal ulcers (on the inside of the duodenum)

In rare cases, a peptic ulcer may develop inside the esophagus. This can be called esophageal ulcers.

In the United States, about 1 in every 73 people are affected by peptic ulcers.


Burning stomach pain is the most common sign of peptic ulcers. It can be felt anywhere between your belly button and breastbone. Moreover, the pain often:

  • Happens when your stomach is empty
  • Stops briefly if you eat or take antacids
  • Lasts for minutes to hours
  • Comes and goes for several days, weeks, or months

You may less often have symptoms such as:

  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Feeling faint
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dark blood in stools

However, it should be noted that symptoms do not occur in nearly three-quarters of people with the condition.


A mucus layer covering your digestive tract protects it from the acid. But when the amount of acid is increased or the amount of mucus is decreased, the acid will eat away at the inner surface of your stomach or small intestine, leading to ulcers. Factors that contribute to it include:

Besides, you will be more likely to have peptic ulcers if you:

  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol
  • Have untreated stress
  • Eat spicy foods


In addition to taking a medical history and performing a physical exam, your doctor may order the following tests, including:

  • Laboratory tests for H. pylori

With these tests, your doctor can determine whether H. pylori is present in your body. The most accurate test is the breath test.

  • Endoscopy

By ordering endoscopy, you doctor can examine your upper digestive system to look for ulcers.

  • Upper gastrointestinal series

This series of X-rays create images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine to help your doctor make a diagnosis. During this process, you swallow a white liquid to coat the digestive tract and make ulcers more visible.


Treatment options depend on the cause of your peptic ulcers. Medications that may be used involve:

  • Antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori

If the result of diagnostic tests indicate there is H. pylori in your digestive tract, a combination of antibiotics to kill it may be recommended. These medicines include amoxicillin (Amoxil), clarithromycin (Biaxin), metronidazole (Flagyl) and levofloxacin (Levaquin).

  • Medications that block acid production and promote healing

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can block the action of the parts of cells that produce acid so that stomach acid will be reduced. They include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and pantoprazole (Protonix).

  • Medications to reduce acid production

Acid blockers, also called histamine (H-2) blockers, help reduce stomach acid released into the digestive tract. They include ranitidine (Zantac) and famotidine (Pepcid).

  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid

Your doctor may also recommend antacids which neutralize existing stomach acid and relief your pain. But antacids are not generally used for healing ulcers. What’s more, they may cause side effects such as constipation or diarrhea.

  • Medications that protect the lining of your stomach and small intestine

Sometimes, medications called cytoprotective agents may be prescribed to protect the tissues lining the stomach and small intestine. Sucralfate (Carafate) and misoprostol (Cytotec) are two options.

Furthermore, the following tips may help you get relief:

  • Have a healthy diet
  • Have foods containing probiotics
  • Eliminate milk
  • Switch pain relievers
  • Control stress
  • Do not smoke
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Get enough sleep

Keyword: peptic ulcers.

Related Posts:

Why My Stomach Feels Like Burning?

Helicobacter pylori – Testing

What are the Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis?

What Kind of Diet is Suitable for People with Gastritis?

Can Gastritis Lead to Cancer?

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.