What is Peptic Ulcer?

Peptic ulcer disease is a condition in which the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine develops painful sores or ulcers (the duodenum). The stomach lining is normally protected from the effects of its digestive fluids by a thick layer of mucus. However, a variety of factors can weaken this barrier, allowing stomach acid to harm the tissue.

“Gastric ulcers” and “duodenal ulcers” are the two most prevalent forms of peptic ulcers. The location of the ulcer is indicated by these designations. Ulcers in the stomach are known as gastric ulcers. Duodenal ulcers are found in the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine (also known as the small bowel). Both stomach and duodenal ulcers can occur at the same time.


Many people who have ulcers don't show any signs or symptoms at all. Some persons with ulcers experience stomach pain. The pain is frequently felt in the upper abdomen. Food might make the pain go away, but it can also make it worse. Nausea, vomiting, and a sense of being bloated or full are some of the other symptoms. It's vital to understand that there are a variety of causes for stomach pain, and not all abdominal discomfort is an "ulcer".

Some people might face mild to moderate symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Gnawing or burning pain
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dark or black stool
  • Weight loss
  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • Trouble while breathing
  • Changes in appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Indigestion


Many people have this misconception that stress and certain foods can lead to ulcers. Two main causes that can cause ulcers:

H. Pylori Bacteria-

The H. pylori bacteria attach to the mucus layer in the digestive tract and create inflammation (irritation), which can lead to the breakdown of this protective coating. Because your stomach includes powerful acid to digest food, this breakdown is a concern. Acid can eat through stomach tissue without the mucus layer to protect it.

Pain Killers-

You're more prone to develop a peptic ulcer if you take aspirin frequently and for a long time. Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are in the same boat (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen and naproxen are two of them. NSAIDs prevent your body from producing a substance that protects your stomach and small intestine from stomach acid. Other pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, will not work.


A barium upper gastrointestinal X-ray (upper GI series) or an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy are used to diagnose an ulcer (EGD or esophagogastroduodenoscopy). The barium upper gastrointestinal (GI) X-ray is simple to produce and has little risk or discomfort (apart from radiation exposure). Barium is a white, chalky material that is taken orally. It shows up on X-rays and allows doctors to view the contour of the stomach; however, barium X-rays are less reliable and can miss ulcers up to 20% of the time.

An upper gastrointestinal endoscopy seems to be more precise than X-rays, but it requires the patient to be sedated and the insertion of a flexible tube via the mouth to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Upper endoscopy provides the extra benefit of being able to take small tissue samples (biopsies) to test for H. pylori infection. H. pylori tests are now commonly available, and your doctor will design a treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms while also killing the bacteria. The quickest way to find out if you have H. pylori is to do a breath test. A blood or stool test, or a sample taken during an upper endoscopy, can also be used to check for it.


The treatment for your ulcer will be determined by the underlying reason. Your doctor will prescribe a combination of medications if tests reveal that you have an H. pylori infection. The drugs must be taken for up to two weeks. Antibiotics are used to fight infections, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to lower stomach acid.

Antibiotic regimens may cause modest side effects such as diarrhea or stomach distress. Consult your doctor if these side effects cause substantial discomfort or do not improve over time.

If your doctor finds that you do not have an H. pylori infection, he or she may prescribe or prescribe an over-the-counter PPI (such as Prilosec or Prevacid) for up to 8 weeks to reduce digestive enzymes and aid in the healing of your ulcer.

Acid blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid), can help with stomach acid and ulcer pain. These drugs are accessible with a prescription as well as over the counter in some areas.


People with ulcer disease can live regular lives without food restrictions or lifestyle adjustments because of contemporary treatment. It has been discovered that smokers have a higher risk of ulcers and treatment failure. The bacteria H. pylori is eradicated, which not only heals ulcers but also prevents them from recurring. Patients with ulcers usually have a good quality of life. Some ulcers are likely to heal without the need for drugs (though they probably recur as well). As a result, the most serious issues that arise as a result of ulcers are ulcer complications. Some of the complications:

  • Bleeding
  • Perforation
  • Obstruction of emptying the passage of blood
  • Weakness
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Blood vomiting

Blood transfusions may be required for patients who have persistent or severe bleeding. With the help of specialist endoscopic devices, an endoscopy is conducted to determine the source of bleeding and to stop active ulcer bleeding.


Most peptic ulcers recover with adequate treatment. If you stop taking your medicine too soon or continue to use cigarettes, alcohol, or nonsteroidal pain medications during therapy, you may not recover. After your initial treatment, your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to assess your progress. If the treatment doesn’t get healed with the treatment then this may indicate:

  • Excessive production of stomach acid
  • Presence of bacteria other than H.Pylori in the stomac
  • Other diseases called stomach cancer and Crohn’s disease
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What causes peptic ulcer disease?

The bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium are the most common causes of peptic ulcers (Aleve). Peptic ulcers are not caused by stress or spicy foods.

2. How is peptic ulcer disease diagnosed?

To identify peptic ulcer disease, your doctor may do a gastrointestinal endoscopy with a biopsy. Your doctor can evaluate the mucus lining of your upper gastrointestinal tract with gastrointestinal endoscopy.

3. How long does it take for a peptic ulcer to heal?

Gastric ulcers that aren't difficult can take up to two or three months to heal entirely. It takes roughly six weeks for duodenal ulcers to heal. Without antibiotics, an ulcer can heal briefly. However, if the germs are not eliminated, it is typical for an ulcer to reoccur or for another ulcer to form nearby.