- What Is It
- Related Resources
Bleeding is one of the most common complications of a stomach ulcer. Excessive or rapid bleeding from a stomach ulcer can be life-threatening.
Gradual, mild bleeding from a stomach ulcer may go unnoticed. If left untreated, however, it can cause anemia which may lead to:
Consult your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms. Untreated bleeding in the gut can cause serious consequences in the long run.
What is a stomach ulcer?
The inner lining of the stomach is made up of protective tissue called the mucosa, which protects the underlying tissues from acidic stomach contents. Any break or sore in this mucus membrane layer is called a stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer.
- Duodenal ulcers: Ulcers in the first part of the small bowel (duodenum)
- Esophageal ulcers: Ulcers that develop in the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth with the stomach)
What are the symptoms of a stomach ulcer?
Symptoms of a stomach ulcer vary from person to person and may range from mild to severe. However, some people may not have any symptoms, particularly in the initial stages of the disease.
The most typical symptom of a stomach ulcer is a dull, burning pain in the upper part of the abdomen (epigastric pain). This pain particularly occurs after eating fatty or spicy foods or when the stomach is empty (between meals). It may even wake you up from sleep. The pain may last from a few minutes to a few hours and may be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acidity (such as milk or bananas) or taking antacids or acid-reducing medications.
Common symptoms of a stomach ulcer may include:
- Burning pain in the upper abdomen
- Intolerance to spicy or fatty foods
- Reduced appetite
Serious symptoms of a stomach ulcer may include:
What causes stomach ulcers?
Stomach ulcers may result from any or a combination of the following factors:
- H. pylori infection: This bacterium causes inflammation in the stomach lining leading to ulcer formation. The risk is even higher when the infection is present in people who smoke.
- Prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These include aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen.
- Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare condition that causes the formation of one or more tumors (cancerous or noncancerous) in your pancreas or duodenum. Gastrin, a hormone secreted by these tumors, causes an increase in stomach acid production and the development of ulcers.
Other factors that may increase the risk of stomach ulcers include:
How is a bleeding stomach ulcer diagnosed?
Your doctor may diagnose bleeding stomach ulcers based on the following:
- Medical history includes asking you about your symptoms and current medications
- Physical examination includes the examination of the skin for pallor (pale appearance), tenderness or swelling in the abdomen, and bowel sounds.
- Tests may include:
How is a bleeding stomach ulcer treated?
Treatment for a bleeding stomach ulcer varies depending on the severity of the bleeding. You may require a blood transfusion to make up for the blood loss. The bleeding vessel may need to be repaired through endoscopic surgery. If there is a perforation or hole in the stomach lining, urgent surgery may be required.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications and suggest lifestyle modifications. Medications may include:
- Antibiotics to treat H. pylori infection
- Antacids or medications that neutralize stomach acids
- Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers (medications that reduce stomach acid secretion)
- Cytoprotective agents or medications that protect the stomach lining
Lifestyle modifications may include:
- Berry Good for You: Some Foods Can Strengthen Your Brain
- Allergies & Asthma: Keep Sneezes & Wheezes at Bay This Holiday Season
- COVID in Pregnancy Can Vary — Get Vaccinated to Stay Safe
- Caregiving Can Heighten Loneliness, or Ease It
- Lots of Teen Boys Use Steroids, Often With Side Effects
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Serious Is a Bleeding Stomach Ulcer Related Articles
What's Causing Your Abdominal Pain?In general, abdominal pain, which may be in the lower left or right of your abdomen, is a symptom of many possible conditions including appendicitis, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and others. It may accompany constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Find out the potential causes of pain in the abdomen and learn when you should see a doctor.
What Are the Best Foods To Eat When You Have a Stomach Ulcer?What Is a Stomach Ulcer? Learn what foods you should eat to relieve your symptoms.
Visual Guide to Stomach UlcersLearn about the causes and symptoms of stomach ulcers, and find out which kinds of treatment can help.
Digestive Disorders: Why Do I Have Blood in My Stool?Do you have blood in your stool? Find out about possible causes and what steps you should take.
Do Stomach Ulcers Go Away on Their Own?Some stomach ulcers may go away on their own without treatment, especially if you follow a strict diet and avoid triggers. However, ulcers can worsen if left untreated.
How Do They Fix a Perforated Duodenal Ulcer?Omental patching is a surgical procedure for treating perforated ulcers. It is also called a Graham patch. This procedure uses a patch of the omentum to repair the injury. A laparoscopic omental patch closure of the perforated duodenal ulcer has become increasingly common. Complications include paralytic Ileus (paralysis of the small intestine), bleeding, infection, abscess (pus) formation, gastric outlet obstruction, necrosis (tissue death), and post-operative leak.
How Do You Know if You Have a Stomach Ulcer?Stomach ulcer or gastric ulcer is a painful open sore that develops on the lining of your stomach due to the damage to the inner stomach lining. This is a type of peptic ulcer disease. Stomach ulcers often can be easily cured; however, it can be fatal if not treated properly. It occurs mostly in men are than in women.
Peptic Ulcer (Stomach Ulcer)Peptic or stomach ulcers are ulcers in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. Learn about symptoms, causes, diet, and treatment.
Peptic Ulcer DiseasePeptic ulcers are sores that develop on the inner lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small bowel (duodenum). Peptic ulcers cause symptoms like heartburn, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and other symptoms. Ulcers are treated with lifestyle modification and medications.
Peptic Ulcer PictureA hole in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. See a picture of Peptic Ulcer and learn more about the health topic.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Stomach Ulcers?What causes stomach ulcers? Learn about what causes this common stomach problem and how to treat it.