Peptic Ulcer Disease (Stomach Ulcer)

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    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.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder Anand, MD
woman with abdominal pain

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Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs)

Proton-pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), esomeprazole (Nexium), and rabeprazole (Aciphex) are more potent than H2 blockers in suppressing acid secretion. The different proton-pump inhibitors are very similar in action and there is no evidence that one is more effective than the other in healing ulcers. While proton-pump inhibitors are comparable to H2 blockers in effectiveness in treating gastric and duodenal ulcers, they are superior to H2 blockers in treating esophageal ulcers. Esophageal ulcers are more sensitive than gastric and duodenal ulcers to minute amounts of acid. Therefore, more complete acid suppression accomplished by proton-pump inhibitors is important for esophageal ulcer healing.

Proton-pump inhibitors are well tolerated. Side effects are uncommon; they include headache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea and rash. Interestingly, proton-pump inhibitors do not have any effect on a person's ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Proton-pump inhibitors have also been found to be safe when used long term, without serious adverse health effects. Although they may promote loss of bone (osteoporosis) and low magnesium levels, both of these side effects are easily identified and treated.

Sucralfate (Carafate) and misoprostol (Cytotec)

Sucralfate (Carafate) and misoprostol (Cytotec) are agents that strengthen the gut lining against attacks by acidic digestive juices. Sucralfate coats the ulcer surface and promotes healing. Sucralfate has very few side effects. The most common side effect is constipation and the interference with the absorption of other medications. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin-like substance commonly used to counteract the ulcerogenic effects of NSAIDs. Studies suggest that misoprostol may protect the stomach from ulceration among people who take NSAIDs chronically. Diarrhea is a common side effect. Misoprostol can cause miscarriages when given to pregnant women, and should be avoided by women of childbearing age.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/3/2016

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