: an ulcer in the wall of the stomach or duodenum resulting from the digestive action of the gastric juice on the mucous membrane when the latter is rendered susceptible to its action (as from infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori or the chronic use of NSAIDs).
Unless otherwise specified the term, 'Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD)' rather indicates stomach ulcer.
Healthcare professionals often prefer this term because ulcers are not just limited to the stomach - they can also form in the small intestine. These types of ulcers are called duodenal ulcers and are more common than stomach ulcers.
In this topic, the term "stomach ulcer" will be used to refer to all types of peptic ulcers, unless there is a need to differentiate between a stomach ulcer and a duodenal ulcer.
Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are open sores that develop on the lining of the stomach.
Ulcers can also occur in part of the intestine just beyond the stomach - these are known as duodenal ulcers.
Both stomach and duodenal ulcers are sometimes referred to as peptic ulcers. Here the term 'stomach ulcer' will be used, although the following information applies equally to duodenal ulcers.
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the abdomen.
Symptoms of stomach ulcer
The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning or gnawing pain that develops in your abdomen (tummy). The pain can also travel up to your neck, down to your navel (umbilicus) or through to your back.
The pain associated with a stomach ulcer is caused by the ulcer itself and stomach acid that comes into contact with the ulcer and irritates it.
The pain can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
You may find pain starts soon after eating a meal. If the ulcer is in your small intestine (duodenal ulcer), pain may start two to three hours after eating so it may wake you up during the night.
Eating more food and taking antacids (indigestion medication) can often help relieve the pain of a duodenal ulcer, but not usually the pain of a stomach ulcer.
Less common symptoms of a stomach ulcer include:
Some people also find they can no longer tolerate eating fatty foods.
Stomach ulcers often do not cause typical symptoms and occasionally do not cause any pain at all. Which means it's possible to get a complication, such as bleeding, without feeling pain beforehand.
When to seek medical advice
You should always visit your GP if you suspect you have a stomach ulcer. While there are treatments available over the counter from pharmacies that provide temporary relief, they will not treat the underlying causes.
When to seek urgent medical advice
Symptoms can develop if a stomach ulcer suddenly causes serious complications, such as internal bleeding. These include:
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Please note, the above list is an example only and not an alternate of professional medical advice.