Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain. Peptic ulcers include gastric ulcers that occur on the inside of the stomach and duodenal ulcers that occur on the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum).
The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and long-term use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (Advil, Aleve, others). Despite popular belief stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, they can make your symptoms worse.
Symptoms of peptic ulcers include:
• Burning in the abdomen or stomach pain
• Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
• Fatty food intolerance
• Frequent or recurrent heartburn
• The most common peptic ulcer symptom is burning in the abdomen or stomach pain. Stomach acid makes the pain worse, as does having an empty stomach. The pain can often be relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication, but then it may come back. The pain may be worse between meals and at night. Nearly 75% of patients with peptic ulcers don’t have symptoms.
• Less often, ulcers may cause severe signs or symptoms such as:
• Vomiting or vomiting blood — which may appear red or black
• Dark blood in stools, or stools that are black or tarry
• Trouble breathing
• Feeling faint
• Nausea or vomiting
• Unexplained weight loss
• Appetite changes
If you think you are having a peptic ulcer or if you have already been diagnosed with peptic ulcers Dr. Whiteley encourages you to schedule an appointment to have your case evaluated. Arrangements can be made to customize your care for your personal needs.