Ulcers

An ulcer is a sore that forms on the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine when stomach acid damages one of these areas. With over 200,000 cases per year in the United States, approximately 1 in 10 Americans will suffer from the burning upper abdominal pain of a peptic or gastric ulcer at some time in their life. Most ulcers resolve within months with treatment by a physician.

Common causes of ulcers include:

  • The bacteria H. Pylori (pylori)
  • Anti-inflammatory pain relievers including aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Alcohol abuse

Other rare causes and factors:

  • Viral infections
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Stomach cancer

The symptoms of a stomach ulcer:

  • Upper abdomen pain just below the breastbone that comes and goes
  • Occasionally food makes the pain worse
  • The pain may wake you
  • Bloating
  • Retching
  • Feeling sick
  • Feel full after a meal

Complications develop in some cases, and can be serious. These include:

  • Bleeding ulcer
  • This is where the ulcer goes right through (perforates) the wall of the stomach. Food and acid in the stomach then leak into the abdominal cavity. This usually causes severe pain and is a medical emergency.

Ulcer Tests

  • Gastroscopy (endoscopy)
  • A test to detect the H. pylori germ (bacterium)
  • Biopsies
Go to Test/Procedures page for helpful descriptions

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