Ulcer – peptic; Ulcer – duodenal; Ulcer – gastric; Duodenal ulcer; Gastric ulcer; Dyspepsia – ulcers
Definition of Peptic ulcer
A peptic ulcer is erosion in the lining of the stomach or the first part of the small intestine, an area called the duodenum.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Normally, the lining of the stomach and small intestines are protected against the irritating acids produced in your stomach. If this protective lining stops working correctly, and the lining breaks down, it results in inflammation () or an ulcer.
Small ulcers may not cause any symptoms. Some ulcers can cause serious bleeding.
Signs and tests
To diagnose an ulcer, your doctor will order one of the following tests:
Treatment involves a combination of medications to kill the bacteria (if present), and reduce acid levels in the stomach. This strategy allows your ulcer to heal and reduces the chance it will come back.
Peptic ulcers tend to come back if untreated. If you follow your doctor’s treatment instructions and take all of your medications as directed, the infection will be cured and you’ll be much less likely to get another ulcer.
George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/1/2009