The symptoms of a
peptic ulcer vary and, by themselves, are not a
reliable way to tell whether you have an ulcer. Also, some people may not have
The symptoms of an ulcer often can be confused with
other abdominal conditions, such as
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Common ulcer symptoms include:
- A burning, aching pain-or a pain that feels
like hunger-between the navel and the breastbone. The pain sometimes extends to
- Belly pain that can last from a few minutes to a few
hours and usually goes away for a while after taking an antacid or acid
- Weeks of pain that comes and goes and may alternate with
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Bloating or nausea after eating.
Less common but more serious symptoms of ulcers
- Vomiting after meals.
blood and/or material that looks like coffee grounds.
- Black stools
that look like tar, or stools that contain dark red blood.
Symptoms of ulcers in the upper small intestine (duodenal
ulcers) and in the stomach (gastric ulcers) are similar, except for when pain
- Pain from a duodenal ulcer may occur several
hours after eating (when the stomach is empty) and may improve after eating.
Pain also may wake you frequently in the middle of the night.
from a gastric ulcer may occur shortly after eating (when food is still in the
Some ulcers do not cause symptoms. These are known as
silent ulcers. Silent ulcers are more common in older adults, people who have
diabetes, or people who use
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as
aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve).
Complications of an ulcer include bleeding,
perforation, penetration, or obstruction of the digestive tract. Complications
can happen in both silent ulcers and ulcers that cause symptoms.
In children, symptoms vary with age:
- Toddlers and young children may complain of
general stomach pain.
- Teenagers may have symptoms more like those
experienced by adults.
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