Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your esophagus, stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine.
Burning Pain is the most common symptom of peptic ulcers. The pain may:
- Be felt anywhere from your navel up to your breastbone
- Flare at night or when you're stomach is empty
- Be temporarily relieved by certain foods or acid-reducing medication
- Disappear and then return for a few days or weeks
Peptic ulcers happen when the acids that help you digest food damage the walls of the stomach or duodenum. The most common cause is infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Another common cause is the long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It's a myth that spicy foods or stress cause peptic ulcers. While these factors may aggravate ulcers, most are caused by infections, certain medications or other digestive conditions.
To see if you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor may test your blood, breath or stool. Your provider also may recommend endoscopy to view inside your stomach/GI tract.
Peptic ulcers will get worse if not treated. Treatment may include medicines to reduce stomach acids or antibiotics to kill H. pylori. Antacids and milk can't heal peptic ulcers. Avoiding alcohol and not smoking can help. You may need surgery if your ulcers don't heal.