peptic ulcers

What Are Peptic Ulcers?

Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine as a result of erosion from stomach acids. Peptic ulcers are a fairly common health problem.

There are three types of peptic ulcers:

  • gastric ulcers – ulcers that develop inside the stomach
  • esophageal ulcers – ulcers that develop inside the esophagus
  • duodenal ulcers – ulcers that develop in the upper section of the small intestines, called the duodenum

Part 2 of 8: Causes

Causes of Peptic Ulcers

Different factors can cause the lining of the stomach, the esophagus, and the small intestine to break down. These include:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) – a bacteria that can cause a stomach infection and inflammation
  • frequent use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs (risk associated with this behavior is increased in women and people over the age of 60)
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • radiation therapy
  • stomach cancer

Part 3 of 8: Symptoms

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers

The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is burning abdominal pain that extends from the navel to the chest, which can range from mild to severe. In some cases, the pain may wake you up at night. Small peptic ulcers may not produce any symptoms.

Other common signs of a peptic ulcer include:

  • changes in appetite
  • nausea
  • bloody or dark stools
  • unexplained weight loss
  • vomiting
  • chest pain