(Stomach Ulcer; Ulcer, Gastric; Ulcer, Stomach)
A gastric ulcer is a sore in the lining of your stomach. Ulcers can be treated. A small percentage of them may be cancerous. See your doctor if you think you may have a gastric ulcer.
Most gastric ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection. It is most often Helicobacter pylori . An ulcer may also be caused by the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Some factors thought to increase the risk of a gastric ulcer are:
Abdominal pain that may:
- Wake you at night
- Be relieved by antacids or milk
- Occur 2-3 hours after a meal
- Be worse when you don't eat
- Abdominal indigestion
- Vomiting, especially blood
- Blood in stools or black, tarry stools
- Unintentional weight loss
- Burning pain in the gut that feels like a dull ache and comes and goes, often starts 2-3 hours after a meal and goes away after you eat, or it may come in the middle of the night when your stomach is empty
- Losing weight
- Loss of appetite
- Pain while eating
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam may be done. Other tests may include:
- Biopsy —removal of a sample of tissue for testing
- Blood tests
Endoscopy—a thin, lighted tube inserted down the throat to examine parts of the body Upper gastrointestinal (GI) X-ray—a series of x-rays of the upper digestive system taken after drinking a barium solution (also called a barium swallow)
- Breath tests
Upper GI Biopsy
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Some ulcers will heal if you avoid caffeine, NSAIDs, alcohol, and tobacco. Other treatment options include:
Treatment with medications focuses on:
- Stopping your stomach from making acids
- Killing the bacteria that is causing your ulcer
Medications used to treat gastric ulcers include:
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Histamine receptor blockers
If ulcers do not heal with medications, surgery may be needed. Surgery can remove the ulcers and/or reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes.
If you are diagnosed with a gastric ulcer, follow your doctor's instructions .
American College of Gastroenterology
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Veteran's Affairs Canada
Gastric ulcer disease. DynaMed website. Available at: http://dynamed101.ebscohost.com/Detail.aspx?id=116159 . Accessed July 5, 2007.
Helicobacter pylori and peptic ulcer disease. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ulcer/history.htm . Accessed July 30, 2007.
MedlinePlus website. Available le at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000213.htm . Accessed July 30, 2007.
Last reviewed January 2010 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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