This condition occurs when a portion of the lining in the stomach or duodenum erodes, sometimes causing pain and irritation. Peptic refers to pepsin, a stomach enzyme that breaks down proteins.
An ulcer usually results from a malfunction that leaves the stomach unable to protect itself from its own acids. A common cause is infection from bacteria that dwell in the gastrointestinal tract. Other factors can include excessive intake of alcohol, tobacco use, and using aspirin or ibuprofen.
Ulcers can cause a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, chest pain, indigestion, bloody stool, or weight loss. These symptoms may become worse after eating. Some patients may suffer no symptoms at all.
Treatment options can include antacids, antibiotics, bismuth, or medications that help protect tissue lining. In severe cases, surgery may be an option.