Peptic ulcers are open sores that occur in the lining of the stomach and upper part of small intestine. It happens when acid in the stomach erodes digestive tract’s protective layer of mucus. You may be asymptomatic or may experience burning pain in the stomach. In severe cases, peptic ulcer may lead to internal bleeding.

Peptic ulcers include -gastric ulcers occurring inside the stomach and duodenal ulcers that occur in the upper portion of the duodenum, an organ that digests and absorbs the food.

What Are The Causes?

Bacteria:

Helicobacter pylori bacteria is the most common causes of peptic ulcer. Not all infected with bacteria get ulcers, but in those who have infected, acid level is raised that ruptures the protective mucus layer, eroding the digestive tract. It may spread from one person to another person through close physical contact, unhygienic food and water.

Medications:

People who are taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory high dose drugs for a longer period are prone to get a peptic ulcer.

People who smoke and drink alcohol are also at risk of getting an ulcer. People who eat lots of spicy food, those who are stressed are not at risk, but it can make the ulcer worse and tough to treat.

Symptoms

You may experience a sharp burning pain between the belly button and the breastbone, especially on an empty stomach, between meals or at night. The pain subsides upon taking an antacid for short period but starts again. Usually, pain lasts for a few minutes to hours and pain may come and last for weeks to days. Symptoms include bloating, burping, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and bloody stools.

Treatment

In most cases, ulcers heal on its own, but if not treated properly ulcer tends to occur again. If H. pylori is the cause of the ulcer, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. If the use of aspirin or NSAIDs is behind the cause of ulcer you may be advised to stop them or use another pain reliever. Doctors may also prescribe antacids to lessen the acid secretion.