Peptic ulcer disease (stomach ulcers)

Gastric ulcer

Peptic ulcers are sores that can affect the lining of the stomach and duodenum (first part of the small intestine). It is often caused by excessive acid in the stomach causing a chemical burn, or medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen (nurofen) and other painkillers. Often times you may have a good reason to be on certain medications and the peptic ulcers may be a side effect. It is also very common that a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori can cause ulcers.

Symptoms may include:

  • Upper abdominal pain or discomfort (often a burning or hunger-like feeling)
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Feeling full quickly when eating
  • Stomach pain, belching, or feeling bloated after eating
  • Heartburn or acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (in severe cases, there may be blood in the vomit)
  • Blood in the stools (which may cause stool to appear black or tar-like).
  • Treatment includes:

  • Antacid medication
  • Stopping or changing offending medications
  • Treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Stopping alcohol and smoking
  • A gastroscopy is often warranted to check how bad the ulcer is and whether it needs treatment or biopsies. A repeat gastroscopy may be warranted to check for healing and to exclude another cause such as stomach cancer.