Peptic ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of your esophagus, stomach and the upper portion of your small intestine. The most common symptom of a peptic ulcer is abdominal pain. The symptoms should never be ignored and you should see a physician as soon as possible if you are experiencing abdominal pain.


Peptic ulcers that occur on the inside of the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Peptic ulcers that occur inside the hollow tube (esophagus) where food travels from your throat to your stomach are called esophageal ulcers. Peptic ulcers that affect the inside of the upper portion of your small intestine (duodenum) are called duodenal ulcers.

It's a myth that spicy foods or a stressful job can cause peptic ulcers. That being said they can be contributing factors which can irritate the underlying cause of the problem. Doctors now know that a bacterial infection or some medications — not stress or diet — cause most peptic ulcers. Burning pain is the most common peptic ulcer symptom. The pain is caused by the ulcer and is aggravated by stomach acid coming in contact with the ulcerated area. Once again f you are xperiencing these symptoms see your physician as soon as possible.

The pain typically may:

  • Be felt anywhere from your waist to your sternum
  • May be worse when your stomach is empty
  • Night time flare ups
  • Often be temporarily relieved by eating certain foods that buffer stomach acid or by taking an acid-reducing medication such as Maalox or Digel.
  • Symptoms come and go but always reoccur.

Less often, ulcers may cause severe signs or symptoms such as:

  • The vomiting of blood — which may appear red or black
  • Dark blood in stools or stools that are black or tarry
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Appetite changes

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have persistent signs and symptoms that worry you. Over-the-counter antacids and acid blockers may relieve the gnawing pain, but the relief is short-lived. If your pain persists, see your doctor. The physicians at Digestive Disease Associates of the North Shore, S.C. are experienced in dealing with these problems. If you are experiencing pain give us a call and schedule an appointment to get a complete evaluation.