Peptic ulcer: Causes, symptoms and prevention

peptic ulcer prevention

A peptic ulcer is a sore that develop in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine. The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

A peptic ulcer in the stomach is known as a gastric ulcer while that in the first part of the intestines is known as a duodenal ulcer.

Globally, it is estimated that up to 10% of adults are affected by peptic ulcers at least once in their lifetime. You can have peptic ulcer at any age, but your chances increases as you aged.

Causes of peptic ulcer

Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the stomach or small intestine. Common causes includes:

  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bacteria that can cause a stomach infection and inflammation
  • Regular use of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress due to serious illness
  • Spicy foods

Symptoms of peptic ulcer

One of the most common symptoms of peptic ulcers is burning abdominal pain. It may occur anywhere from the navel to the breastbone. It is more severe when the stomach is empty or right after eating. In some cases, the pain may wake you up at night.

Other common signs of a peptic ulcer include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting that is especially persistent and severe
  • Black tarry or stools with dark red blood stools due to bleeding
  • Weight loss due to inadequate food intake
  • Indigestion and heartburn may also occur
  • chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Bloating and abdominal fullness

Treatment of peptic ulcer

Treatment for peptic ulcers depends on the cause. Medications can include:


A combination of antibiotics to kill the bacterium H. pylori such as amoxicillin (Amoxil), clarithromycin (Biaxin), metronidazole (Flagyl).

Proton pump inhibitors

It reduces stomach acid by blocking the action of the parts of cells that produce acid. Medications such as: omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole, rabeprazole (Aciphex), esomeprazole and pantoprazole (Protonix).


It also reduces the amount of stomach acid released into your digestive tract, which relieves ulcer pain and encourages healing. Examples includes medications such as: ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine.


To neutralize existing stomach acid and also provide rapid pain relief.

Tips to prevent peptic ulcer disease

About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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