Peptic ulcer

Alternative Names

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.

Symptoms

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

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.

Expectations (prognosis)

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.

Review

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

Ulcer emergencies
Gastroscopy procedure
Location of peptic ulcers
Cause of peptic ulcers
Stomach disease or trauma

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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