In patients with peptic ulcer disease, an open sore or crater develops on the inside lining of your stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum). The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is stomach pain.
The most common causes of peptic ulcers are infection with Helicobacter pylori and long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Stress and spicy foods do not cause peptic ulcers. However, they can make your symptoms worse.
Burning stomach pain
Feeling of fullness, bloating or belching
Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the inner surface of the stomach or small intestine. The acid can create a painful open sore or crater that may bleed.
Your digestive tract is coated with a mucous layer that normally protects against acid. But if the amount of acid is increased or the amount of mucus is decreased, you could develop an ulcer.
In addition to having risks related to taking NSAIDs, you may have an increased risk of peptic ulcers if you:
Smoking may increase the risk of peptic ulcers in people who are infected with H. pylori.
Alcohol can irritate and erode the mucous lining of your stomach, and it increases the amount of stomach acid that's produced.
Alone, these factors typically will not cause ulcers, but they can make ulcers worse and more difficult to heal.
Treatment for peptic ulcers depends on the cause, including eradicating Helicobacter pylori infection if present with antibiotics, eliminating or reducing NSAID use, and helping your ulcer heal with a potent stomach acid blocking medication.
Not all treatments, tests and services are available at all Mayo Clinic Health System locations. Check with your preferred location in advance.