6 Signs You May Have a Stomach Ulcer

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Brett Bakshis on May 10, 2021
  • Painkillers for Ulcers
    Is It an Ulcer?
    A stomach ulcer—also known as a peptic or gastric ulcer—is a small sore that develops in the lining of the stomach. It’s a common condition that affects millions of Americans. Symptoms can be mild, but left untreated, a stomach ulcer can become serious and may require surgery. In extreme cases, complications from a stomach ulcer can even be fatal. That’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms.
  • businessman-with-upset-stomach
    1. Dull, Burning Pain
    This is the most common symptom of a stomach ulcer. Typically, this pain occurs at night or between meals, when your stomach is empty. Food, liquids and antacids can often temporarily relieve this pain. It can come and go, and it can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
  • Man Burping
    2. Bloating and Burping
    Many peptic ulcers are caused by infection with H. pylori, a common but potentially harmful bacterium. Too much bacteria in your small intestine can lead to bloating from excess production of gas. If your doctor diagnoses you with an H. pylori stomach ulcer, you’ll receive a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics offer a very good chance of a cure.
  • Businessman Feeling Sick
    3. Nausea and Vomiting
    A peptic ulcer can cause an upset stomach. If you see red blood in your vomit, or if your vomit has the appearance and consistency of coffee grounds, that could be an indication your ulcer has gotten worse. Call your doctor right away for these symptoms.
  • Man Standing in Front of Bathroom Scale
    4. Weight Loss
    In serious cases, peptic ulcers can cause a blockage in your digestive system, as chronic inflammation swells the opening of the stomach until it closes. This can prevent food from moving through your stomach and into your small intestine, leading to weight loss. You may also have weight loss due to a decrease in appetite. Regardless, tell your doctor if you experience weight loss, with or without a decrease in appetite.
  • Dizzy in the Gym
    5. Feeling Weak or Faint
    Without treatment, ulcers can cause blood vessels in your stomach and small intestine to break and bleed. This can lead to anemia and feelings of weakness.
  • stomach ache
    6. Sudden, Sharp Pain That Doesn’t Go Away
    If the dull, burning ache from your ulcer turns into a sharp pain, see your doctor right away. This could mean that the ulcer has caused a more serious problem, like a perforation in the wall of your stomach or intestine, or a blockage in your digestive tract.
  • Filling out patient health history
    Know Your Risks
    Some people have an elevated risk for developing stomach ulcers. These include people who:

    • Are elderly
    • Drink alcohol to excess
    • Smoke cigarettes or use tobacco
    • Have had a peptic ulcer in the past or have a family history of ulcers
    • Have multiple medical conditions
    • Regularly take two or more nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin
    • Take steroids or other drugs to increase bone mass
  • Woman complaining to doctor about pain
    Don’t Wait to Get Treated
    If you experience any of these signs of a peptic ulcer, talk with your doctor. Many ulcers can be effectively treated in just a few short weeks with a combination of antibiotics and acid-blocking medications—but only if you catch them early. The best approach is to treat an ulcer before it damages the lining of the stomach and intestine.
6 Signs You May Have a Stomach Ulcer

About The Author

  1. Belching, bloating, and flatulence. American College of Gastroenterology. http://patients.gi.org/topics/belching-bloating-and-flatulence
  2. Feinstein LB, Holman KL, Christensen Y, Steiner CA, Swerdlow DL. Trends in hospitalizations for peptic ulcer disease, United States, 1998-2005. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16(9):1410-1418.
  3. Understanding peptic ulcer disease. American Gastroenterological Association. http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/peptic-ulcer-disease
  4. What I need to know about peptic ulcer disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/peptic-ulcer/Documents/...
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Last Review Date: 2021 May 10
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