5 important symptoms of stomach ulcers

A stomach ulcer is a deadly pathology, the symptoms of which are familiar from 6 to 14% of the population of our planet. Among Russians, it is diagnosed in every tenth adult citizen. In the United States today, according to medical statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 25 million patients with gastric ulcer.

It is known that a thick layer of mucus produced by the inner mucous membrane protects the human stomach from digestive juices, which, among other components, contain its main component, hydrochloric acid. If dryness of the mucous membrane occurs, gastric juices erode the tissues of this organ, leading to the formation of ulcers. 

Contrary to popular belief, unhealthy diet, tobacco smoking , addiction to caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, depression, psychological distress are not the main culprits of a formidable disease. Although these factors can significantly worsen the clinical picture of pathology. 

“The two main causes of stomach ulcers are an aggressive microbe called Helicobacter pylori , and long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen ),” says Shipla Ravella , MD, gastroenterologist, M.D. Shipla Ravella of Columbia University Medical Center.

According to medical statistics, the helical acidophilic bacterium Helicobacter pylori , which is not afraid of hydrochloric acid, is the cause of 38% of episodes of gastric ulcer.

In addition, the development of this pathology can be provoked by:

  • foreign bodies in the digestive tract;
  • parasites;
  • some oncopathologies ;
  • syphilis;
  • diabetes;
  • HIV infection;
  • tuberculosis;
  • Crohn’s disease.

Patients do not always turn to a specialist in a timely manner, and it is not always possible to diagnose a stomach ulcer in the early stages of development, since the main symptoms of the disease are rather non-specific. They can be signs of many other pathologies besides gastric ulcer. As a result, precious time is lost, the ulcer affects not only the gastric mucosa, but also its deeper layers, manifesting dangerous complications.

Therefore, it is very important not to self-medicate, but to immediately seek qualified medical help if the following symptoms appear.

Abdominal pain

It is not surprising that among the most frequent complaints of patients with gastric ulcer, burning pain, localized in the central part of the abdominal cavity, is “in the lead” . 

“Because ulcers affect the lining of the stomach, pain is a classic manifestation of acidic organ damage,” explains gastroenterologist Rusha Modi , assistant professor of clinical medicine at Keck Medical Center, California.

Pain with a lesion of the stomach usually occurs half an hour after a meal, while with a lesion of the duodenum, it reaches a peak between meals and at night, when this organ does not contain any food that can act as a “buffer” between the ulcer and hydrochloric acid.

Taking antacids can temporarily relieve pain. But there is a high likelihood that they will continually return until the patient receives adequate treatment.

It is selected by a gastroenterologist individually, after a thorough examination of the patient, taking into account the existing contraindications and possible side effects.


Since the ulcer is constantly exposed to acid, stomach pain is often combined with chronic heartburn, which many do not pay attention to.

Heartburn, in turn, is accompanied by such pathological symptoms as:

  • bloating;
  • belching (an unpleasant sensation of acid getting from the esophagus into the mouth);
  • a feeling of fullness in the stomach.

Self-administration of an over-the-counter antacid is the most common treatment for heartburn patients. But it only temporarily relieves symptoms. Therefore, if you suffer from heartburn, you should seek help from a specialist.


“Nausea and subsequent vomiting are also associated with an inflammatory cascade that results from ulcers,” says Rusha Modi .

“Inflammation of the stomach lining itself causes intermittent muscle contractions in the organ, causing nausea. If the muscles in the stomach wall contract with sufficient force, vomiting can occur, ”says gastroenterologist Rudolph Bedford , MD, at St. John Providence Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

In some cases, these symptoms can be very dangerous because the ulcer causes food to become blocked in the stomach and the latter cannot travel to other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.

Only a doctor can determine the exact cause of gastric ulcer and prescribe medications that will help eliminate pathological symptoms.

Bloody vomiting accompanying a stomach ulcer

Sometimes the ulcer bleeds. “In this case, the vomit contains stomach-digested blood that resembles coffee grounds and is colored in shades of black,” says gastroenterologist Sophie Balsora , assistant professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center .

Bloody vomiting is a medical emergency. In case of gastric bleeding, emergency surgery is necessary, as the patient may die due to significant blood loss and the development of shock.

Back pain or buzzing

Pain characteristic of this pathology, in many patients, can move from the abdominal region to the back or chest of the patient.

“If there is an ulcer in the wall of the stomach, the pain can migrate and be very intense, prolonged, it is quite difficult to relieve it,” warns Shipla Ravella .

In addition, perforation of the stomach wall may occur. In this case, the patient experiences sudden and very severe pain in the stomach, chest or back, which is constantly increasing.  

A similar symptom is also deadly and requires the immediate assistance of specialists. If perforation of the stomach wall occurs, emergency surgical treatment is indicated.

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