What Causes Stomach Ulcers?

Abdominal pain, or stomach pain, does not usually require treatment from a medical professional. Discomfort in your abdominal area from indigestion or gas will go away on its own. However, you may need to talk to a medical professional for some health issues that cause stomach pain, such as peptic ulcers.

Here’s some information to help you understand what causes stomach ulcers, and when you should talk to a doctor for stomach pain.

What are ulcers?

An ulcer is an open sore that does not heal properly. Ulcers may take an unusually long time to heal, or they may keep returning. A peptic ulcer, or stomach ulcer, is a sore on the inside lining of your stomach, or upper portion of your small intestine.

Peptic ulcers cause a range of symptoms: stomach pain, nausea, heartburn, intolerance to spicy or fatty foods, gas, bloating, and feeling full. The most common symptom of stomach ulcers is a burning stomach pain.

Severe cases of peptic ulcers can cause weight loss, vomiting, and blood in vomit or stool.

What causes stomach ulcers?

There’s no single cause of peptic ulcers. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infections are the most common cause of peptic ulcers. Overuse of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also cause stomach ulcers.

Other factors increase your rick for peptic ulcers, too:

  • drinking alcohol on a regular basis
  • smoking cigarettes
  • having liver, kidney, or lung disease
  • having a family history of peptic ulcers

The foods that you eat and stress do not cause ulcers. However, they can make the symptoms of your ulcers worse.

Eating spicy foods and being under stress can make ulcer symptoms worse, but they do not cause stomach ulcers. Click To Tweet

How do you treat ulcers?

There are a few things that you can do to relieve the symptoms of stomach ulcers. Avoiding spicy and fatty foods, managing stress, using over-the-counter antacids, and stopping the use of NSAIDs may provide relief. Your doctor may treat your peptic ulcer by prescribing antibiotics, or medications to block or reduce acid production.

It’s important to know when you should seek care for stomach pain. Persistent abdominal pain that does not go away can indicate an underlying health problem.

Talk to your doctor if you experience frequent abdominal pain, or abdominal pain that does not go away, if you feel faint or have trouble breathing with abdominal pain, or if you have blood in your vomit or stool.

Your primary care doctor can help determine the best action to take, which may include a referral to a gastroenterologist: a physician that specializes in diagnosing and treating digestive diseases.