Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Peptic ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or duodenum.
Peptic ulcer formation is related to
H. pylori bacteria in the
stomach and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) in 50% of
patients. For the remaining 50% there are miscellaneous or unknown causes.
Ulcer pain may not correlate with the presence or severity of
The main symptom of peptic ulcer is upper abdominal pain which can be
dull, sharp, or burning. (Bloating and
burping are not symptoms of peptic
ulcer, and vomiting, poor appetite, and nausea are uncommon symptoms of
Treatment of ulcers involves antibiotic combinations along with stomach
acid suppression to eradicate H. pylori, eliminating precipitating
factors such as NSAIDs and stomach acid suppression with medications alone .
Complications of ulcers include bleeding, perforation, and blockage of
the stomach (gastric obstruction).
If a person with peptic ulcers
smokes or take NSAIDs, the ulcers may
recur after treatment.
What is a peptic ulcer?
A peptic ulcer is a break in the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum. A peptic ulcer of the stomach is called a gastric ulcer; of the duodenum, a duodenal ulcer; and of the esophagus, an esophageal ulcer. Peptic ulcers occur when the lining of these organs is corroded by the acidic digestive (peptic) juices which are secreted by the cells of the stomach. A peptic ulcer differs from an erosion because it extends deeper into the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum and excites more of an inflammatory reaction from the tissues that are eroded.
Peptic ulcer disease is common, affecting millions of Americans yearly. Moreover, peptic ulcers are a recurrent problem; even healed ulcers can recur unless treatment is directed at preventing their recurrence. The medical cost of treating peptic ulcer and its complications runs into billions of dollars annually. Recent medical advances have increased our understanding of ulcer formation. Improved and expanded treatment options now are available.
Bleeding ulcers are a big deal. Often having endoscopy
is diagnostic and therapeutic. A gastroenterologist can use a fiberoptic camera
to view the inside of the stomach and duodenum, searching for a source of
Symptoms of a bleeding ulcer include:
Abdominal discomfort after eating
Upper abdominal burning or hunger pain 1 to 3 hours after eating or in
the middle of the night