What is Peptic Ulcer Disease?
Peptic ulcers, also known as stomach ulcers, are open sores or lesions in the lining of the stomach or duodenum (upper small intestine). They are quite common and can cause stomach and abdominal pain that disrupts your life. Peptic ulcers are common, with about one in 10 people developing one in their lifetime.
Types of Peptic Ulcers
There are two types of peptic ulcers:
- Gastric ulcers, which occur in the stomach
- Duodenal ulcers, which occur in the first part of the small intestine
Signs & Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers
Peptic ulcers may not cause any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can differ from person to person. Stomach ulcer symptoms include:
- Pain in middle or upper abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark or bloody stool
- Feeling uncomfortably full or feeling hungry after eating a meal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
What Causes Peptic Ulcers?
Peptic ulcers are most commonly caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Most people with peptic ulcers have this bacteria living in their digestive tract, but not everyone with the H. pylori bacteria develops peptic ulcers. An H. pylori infection can spread from person to person through vomit, stool, saliva, or contaminated food or water.
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also cause peptic ulcers. NSAIDS including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) can irritate and inflame the stomach lining, which leaves it open to damage from stomach acid and can result in stomach ulcers.
There are certain factors and behaviors that cause an increased risk of developing a peptic ulcer or worsen ulcers once they have formed.
- Illness of the liver, kidney, or lungs
- Drinking alcohol
- Having surgery
- Use of medications like NSAIDs and steroids
While it is impossible to completely prevent peptic ulcers, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Consulting your doctor about NSAID use
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Protecting yourself from infections
Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Peptic Ulcer Care
The NewYork-Presbyterian physicians are well-equipped to recognize the symptoms of peptic ulcers, such as stomach pain, and to get you the treatment you need. Your care team includes gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, registered dietitians, and others with the compassion and skills to care for people with peptic ulcers and other stomach problems.