Peptic Ulcer: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Complications, Prediction and Prevention

They are sores that develop in the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine lining.

They are usually formed due to the inflammation caused by H. pylori bacteria and the erosion of stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem.

Types of peptic ulcer

There are three types of peptic ulcers:

  • Gastric ulcers: ulcers that develop inside the stomach.
  • Esophageal ulcers: ulcers that form inside the esophagus.
  • Duodenal ulcers: ulcers that develop in the upper section of the small intestine, called the duodenum.


Different factors can cause the lining of the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine to break down. These include:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that can cause an infection and inflammation of the stomach.
  • Frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Smoke.
  • I was drinking too much alcohol.
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stomach cancer.

Symptoms of peptic ulcer

The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is burning abdominal pain that extends from the navel to the chest, ranging from mild to severe.

In some cases, the pain may wake you up at night. Small peptic ulcers may not produce any symptoms in the early stages.

Other common signs of a peptic ulcer include:


  • Changes in appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Bloody or dark stools.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Indigestion.
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain.


There are two types of tests available to diagnose a peptic ulcer. They are called upper endoscopy and upper gastrointestinal (GI) series.

Upper endoscopy

In this procedure, your doctor inserts a long tube with a camera into the throat, stomach, and small intestine to examine the area of ​​the ulcers.

This instrument also allows your doctor to remove tissue samples for examination.

Not all cases require a superior endoscopy. However, this procedure is recommended for people with an increased risk of stomach cancer.

This includes people over 45, as well as people who experience:

  • Anemia.
  • Weightloss.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.

Upper GI

If you have no trouble swallowing and have a low risk of stomach cancer, your doctor may recommend a higher GI test.

For this procedure, you will drink a thick liquid called barium. Then, a technician will take an x-ray of your stomach, esophagus, and small intestine. The fluid will make it possible for your doctor to see and treat the ulcer.

Because H. pylori is a cause of peptic ulcers, your doctor will also perform a test to detect this infection in the stomach.

Treatment for peptic ulcer

The treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your ulcer.

If tests show you have H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe a combination of medications. You will have to take medicine for up to two weeks.

Medications include antibiotics to help kill infections and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to help reduce stomach acid.

You may experience minor side effects such as diarrhea or upset stomach due to antibiotic regimens. Talk with your doctor if these side effects cause significant discomfort or do not improve over time.

Suppose your doctor determines that you do not have H. pylori infection. In that case, you can recommend a prescription or over-the-counter PPI (Prilosec or Prevacid) for up to eight weeks to reduce stomach acid and help your ulcer heal.

Acid blockers like ranitidine or famotidine can also reduce stomach acid and sore ulcers. These medications are available as a prescription and without a prescription at lower doses.

Your doctor may also prescribe sucralfate (Carafate) that will cover your stomach and reduce the symptoms of peptic ulcers.


Untreated ulcers may get worse over time. They can lead to other more severe health complications, such as:

  • Perforation: A hole develops in the stomach or small intestine lining and causes an infection. A sign of a perforated ulcer is sudden and severe abdominal pain.
  • Internal bleeding: Hemorrhagic ulcers can cause a significant blood loss and, therefore, require hospitalization. Signs of a bleeding ulcer include dizziness, dizziness, and black stools.
  • Scar tissue: This is a thick tissue that develops after an injury. This tissue makes it difficult for food to pass through your digestive tract. Signs of scar tissue include vomiting and weight loss.

All three complications are severe and may require surgery. Seek urgent medical attention if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Sudden and acute abdominal pain.
  • Fainting, excessive sweating or confusion may be signs of shock.
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Abdomen that is hard to touch.
  • Abdominal pain that gets worse with movement.


With proper treatment, most peptic ulcers heal. However, you may not heal if you stop taking your medicine early or use tobacco, alcohol, and non-steroidal analgesics during treatment.

Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment after your initial treatment to evaluate your recovery.

Some ulcers, called refractory ulcers, are not cured with treatment. If your ulcer does not heal with the initial treatment, this may indicate:

  • Excessive production of stomach acid.
  • Presence of bacteria other than H. pylori in the stomach.
  • Other diseases, such as stomach cancer or Crohn’s disease.

Your doctor may offer a different treatment method or perform additional tests to rule out stomach cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases.

Prevention of peptic ulcer

Confident choices and lifestyle habits can reduce your risk of developing peptic ulcers. These include:

  • Do not drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
  • Do not mix alcohol with medications.
  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid infection.
  • Limiting the use of ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
  • No Smoking.
  • Follow a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.