Peptic Ulcers

What is it?

Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper portion of the small intestine.

Who's at Risk?

One out of eight people will be affected by peptic ulcers during their lifetime. Smoking may increase the risk of peptic ulcers in people who are infected with H. pylori (a type of bacteria that infects the stomach). Drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of having peptic ulcers because alcohol can irritate and erode the stomach’s mucous lining. People who use anti-inflammatory drugs are also at risk.


Burning pain is the most common symptom. This pain can occur anywhere from the abdomen to the breastbone, and it may be worse at night and/or when the stomach is empty. These symptoms can disappear and then return in a few days or weeks. Other more severe symptoms include appetite changes, nausea or vomiting, dark blood in a person’s stools, tarry or black stools, and unexplained weight loss.


Endoscopy is used to determine the presence of peptic ulcers. A thin, flexible tube with a miniature video camera is passed through the mouth and into the upper digestive tract. Endoscopy allows a physician to take a sample of the stomach lining to rule out cancer and determine if H. pylori is present.

Peptic Ulcers Health Tips Video

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.