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Peptic ulcers are sores that develop in the lining of the upper portion of your digestive tract, including your esophagus, stomach and duodenum, the upper portion of your small intestine. While people sued to believe ulcers were caused by stress or eating certain foods, today we know ulcers are actually caused by a bacterial infection, or sometimes by use of certain medications which can irritate the lining and cause sores to develop over time.
The most common symptoms of a peptic ulcer is abdominal pain which can sometimes feel like a burning sensation and can occur anywhere from your bellybutton to your upper chest. Pain often occurs most often when the stomach is empty or at night. Sometimes, pain subsides after taking antacids or eating certain foods that help “soak up” stomach acid so it doesn't irritate the sore spots. Pain may resolve for a few days and then recur. Severe ulcers can cause additional symptoms, which may include:
nausea and vomiting
blood in the vomit, which may appear red or blackish
dark or tarry stools
changes in appetite
unintentional weight loss
Ulcer treatment depends on the underlying cause. If an ulcer is caused by use of medication, alternative options will need to be considered or you may be given a medication to protect your stomach lining so the medication doesn't irritate it. If an ulcer is caused by an infection with the H. pylori bacterium, medications can be given to fight off the infection so the sores can heal. You'll probably also need to take special prescription medications to reduce the amount of acid your stomach is producing so your stomach, duodenum or esophagus has a chance to heal.
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