In the past, ulcers (or sores in the lining of your digestive tract) were thought to be caused by excessive eating of spicy food, stress or an anxious personality. We now know that most ulcers are likely caused by infection with the helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria that which disturb the lining of digestive tract. Acid may weaken the area, causing an ulcer. An ulcer can form in two areas of the digestive tract, the stomach and the duodenum (where the stomach meets the small intestine).
Common Ulcer Symptoms
- Burning, cramping or hunger-like pain in the stomach area, often 1 to 3 hours following a meal or in the middle of the night
- Pain that gets better or worse with eating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Black, tarry or bloody stools (indicating the ulcer is bleeding)
Or there may be no symptoms
- A barium, upper gastrointestinal series is used to locate an ulcer. During the test, you drink a chalky liquid that helps the ulcer show up on the x-ray
- An endoscopic exam enables your doctors to get a closer look at your ulcer and take tissue samples
- Blood and breath tests are used to show the location of H. pylori in your digestive tract
To kill H. pylori so your ulcer can heal, your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics. Other ulcer medications may be prescribed as well. Usually, killing H. pylori will keep the ulcer from returning.