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Peptic Ulcers (Stomach Ulcers)

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Definition & Facts

A peptic ulcer (stomach ulcer) is a sore on the lining of your stomach or duodenum. People who take NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen long-term or are infected with the bacteria H. pylori are most likely to develop peptic ulcers.

Elderly woman with gray hair holding her aching stomach

Symptoms & Causes

A dull or burning pain in the stomach is the most common symptom of peptic ulcers (stomach ulcers). Causes include long-term use of NSAIDs, an infection with H.pylori, or both. Rarely, tumors cause peptic ulcers.


Peptic Ulcers (stomach ulcers) have different symptoms and causes, but only endoscopy or an x-ray can determine if you have one.


Your doctor will decide the best treatment based on the cause of your peptic ulcer (stomach ulcer). Most ulcers heal from treatment with Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). If an ulcer is caused by NSAID’s, your doctor may tell you to stop taking them.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

Different foods do not cause or prevent peptic ulcers (stomach ulcers), but drinking alcohol does make ulcers worse.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support basic and clinical research into many digestive disorders.

Your Digestive System & How It Works

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-also called the digestive tract-and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.