Stomach ulcer

A stomach ulcer is a crater-like sore in the lining of the stomach or in the first part of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. These sores also are called peptic or gastric ulcers.

Stomach ulcers may cause a dull, aching pain above the navel that gets worse an hour or two after eating. In severe cases, ulcers can lead to severe internal bleeding and a hole (perforation) in the stomach or intestine.

Most stomach ulcers are caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria or by medicine (such as aspirin) that damages the stomach lining. Rarely, stomach ulcers are a result of stomach cancer. The role stress plays in a person's developing a stomach ulcer remains unclear.

Treatment includes medicine to relieve symptoms and help heal the ulcer. In severe cases of excess bleeding or if a hole develops in the stomach or intestine, surgery may be needed.

Last Updated: March 2, 2010

Author: Kathleen M. Ariss, MS

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

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