Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are sores within the stomach lining that can be quite painful. Stomach ulcers are a form of peptic ulcer disease, which affects the stomach as well as the small intestines. When the thick, protective layer of mucus is reduced, the stomach and digestive system can be more vulnerable. The digestive acids in the stomach can eat away at stomach tissues that line the stomach and can cause an ulcer to form.
Stomach ulcers are most commonly caused by a bacterial infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) or from long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).
There are a number of symptoms that can be associated with stomach ulcers and the severity can range based on whether it is a mild or severe ulcer. The most common stomach ulcer symptom is a burning pain or sensation in the abdomen area. The pain can be more intense and especially severe when the stomach is completely empty and can last for a few minutes to several hours.
Other symptoms of stomach ulcers include:
It is also important to remember that almost three-quarters of people with peptic ulcers do not have symptoms.
To diagnose stomach ulcers, the doctor reviews your medical history and symptoms and may require different testing, including: