Peptic ulcer – Symptoms and causes

types of ulcer

These ulcers are open sores that are developing on the inside lining of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine. Stomach pain is the most common symptom of a peptic ulcer. The peptic ulcer is including:

The long – term use of aspirin and other painkillers, such as naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and the infection with H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) are the most common cause for peptic ulcers [1,2]. Spicy foods and stress are not causes for peptic ulcers but they can make your symptoms worse.

peptic ulcer ppt

Symptoms of Peptic ulcer

Here are the most common symptoms of peptic ulcers:

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Fatty food intolerance
  • Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
  • Burning stomach pain

The burning stomach pain is the most common symptom of peptic ulcer. Having an empty stomach and stomach acids are making this pain worse. When you are taking an acid – reducing medication or when you are eating certain foods which buffer the stomach acid, then they can help you to get a relief from the pain but the pain can come back. Also this pain can be worse between meals and at night. It is known fact that nearly ¾ of people who have peptic ulcers do not have symptoms. There are rare cases when peptic ulcers can cause severe signs and symptoms, such as

  • Appetite changes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling faint
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dark blood in stools or stools that are black or tarry
  • Vomiting or vomiting blood – which can appear red or black

Causes of Peptic ulcer

It is known that when acid that is in your digestive tract eats away the inner surface of your stomach or small intestine, then peptic ulcers happen. This acid is creating a painful open sore which may bleed. The digestive tract is coated with a mucous layer which normally is protecting against acid. If the amount of mucus is decrease or if the amount of acid is increased, then you can develop peptic ulcer. Here are the most common causes for peptic ulcer:

  • Regular use of certain pain relievers:

    It is known that when you are taking aspirin, as well as certain prescription pain medications (known as NSAIDs [nonsteroidal anti – inflammatory drugs]) or over – the – counter medications then they can irritate or inflame the lining of the stomach and small intestine. These medications are including naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, others) and ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil and others). These medications are not including acetaminophen (Tylenol). It is known that peptic ulcers are most common in older adults who are taking the mentioned pain medications on frequent basis or in people who take these medications as a treatment for osteoarthritis. [1,2]

  • Other medications:

    When you are taking other medications, along with NSAIDs, such as risedronate (Actonel), alendronate (Fosamax), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), low – dose aspirin, anticoagulants and steroids, can increase your risk of developing peptic ulcers.

  • A bacterium:

    pylori bacteria are living in the mucous layer which covers and protects tissues which line the stomach and small intestine. In many cases, this bacterium is not causing problems but there are some cases when it can cause inflammation of the stomach’s inner layer which is producing an ulcer [3]. It is not known how the H. pylori infection spreads. This bacterium can be transmitted from person to person through a close contact, such as kissing. Also, people can contract the H. pylori through food and water.

Risk factors

Taking aspirin can increase your risk of getting peptic ulcers but also there are some other factors which can increase your risk of getting it, such as

  • Eating spicy foods [4]
  • Smoke:

    Those people who are infected with H. pylori and who are smokers are having increased risk of getting peptic ulcers [5].

  • Have untreated stress
  • Drink alcohol:

    It is known that the alcohol can irritate and erode the mucous lining of the stomach and it can increase the amount of stomach acid which is produced [5].


[1] MSchmidt M, Lamberts M, Olsen AMS, et al. Cardiovascular safety of non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: review and position paper by the working group for Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy of the European Society of Cardiology. European Heart Journal. 2016.

[2] Scarpignato C, Dolak W, Lanas A, et al. Rifaximin reduces the number and severity of intestinal lesions associated with use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in humans. Gastroenterology. 2017;152(5):980.

[3] Majumdar D, Bebb J. Helicobacter pylori infection and peptic ulcers. Medicine. 2019;47(5):292-300.

[4] Lv J, Qi L, Yu C, et al. Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study. BMJ. 2015;351:h3942.

[5] Ostensen H, Gudmundsen TE, Ostensen M, et al. Smoking, alcohol, coffee, and familial factors: any associations with peptic ulcer disease? A clinically and radiologically prospective study. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1985;20(10):1227-35.


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