Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain.
Peptic ulcers include:
- Gastric ulcers that occur on the inside of the stomach
- Duodenal ulcers that occur on the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine
- Burning stomach pain
- Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
- Intolerance to fatty foods
The most common peptic ulcer symptom is burning stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse, as does having an empty stomach. The pain can often be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication, but then it may come back. The pain may be worse between meals and at night.
Many people with peptic ulcers don’t even have symptoms.
Less often, ulcers may cause severe signs or symptoms such as:
- Vomiting or vomiting blood — which may appear red or black
- Dark blood in stools, or stools that are black or tarry
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling faint
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Appetite changes
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have the severe signs or symptoms listed above. Also see your doctor if over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers relieve your pain but the pain returns.
You may reduce your risk of peptic ulcer if you follow the same strategies recommended as home remedies to treat ulcers. It also may be helpful to:
- Protect yourself from infections. It’s not clear just how H. pylori spreads, but there’s some evidence that it could be transmitted from person to person or through food and water.You can take steps to protect yourself from infections, such as H. pylori, by frequently washing your hands with soap and water and by eating foods that have been cooked completely.
- Use caution with pain relievers. If you regularly use pain relievers that increase your risk of peptic ulcer, take steps to reduce your risk of stomach problems. For instance, take your medication with meals.Work with your doctor to find the lowest dose possible that still gives you pain relief. Avoid drinking alcohol when taking your medication, since the two can combine to increase your risk of stomach upset.