Peptic Ulcerative Disease

What are peptic ulcers?

Peptic ulcers form when the lining of gut becomes damaged, creating an open, painful sore. They can appear in in the stomach lining (stomach or gastric ulcers) or the upper part of the small intestine (known as duodenal ulcers).

What are the symptoms of ulcers?

Many people may not experience any symptoms but if they do, it is most likely to be upper abdominal pain.

Other symptoms may include:

Occasionally they will lead to more serious issues. If you experience any of the following, it’s important to seek urgent medical attention:

  • vomiting blood,
  • black or tarry stools,
  • trouble breathing, or
  • feeling faint.

What causes peptic ulcers?

Contrary to common belief, stress and spicy foods don’t cause peptic ulcers, though they can make existing ulcers worse.

Some of the most common causes are infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen). In older people, stomach cancer can sometimes present as an ulcer.

How are peptic ulcers diagnosed?

Your gastroenterologist may undertake one of a few tests to check for the presence of a peptic ulcer. These include an endoscopy, barium swallow, breath test, blood tests or stool tests.

What treatment options are available?

The treatment you are offered will depend on what is causing your ulcer. Treatments may include:

  • medications such as antibiotics (if Helicobacter pylori bacteria is present) or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs; to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach),
  • changes to current medications, or
  • lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking.

Find out more about peptic ulcers

To find out more about peptic ulcers, make an appointment (link to appointment) to talk to one of our gastroenterologists today.