What Cause Peptic Ulcer

In general, Peptic ulcers are open sores that occur in the inner walls of your stomach or duodenum. The two most common causes of peptic ulcers are bacterial infections and overuse of pain reliever medications. The area affected by the ulcer will produce a burning pain when it is exposed to the digestive juices. Moreover, This happens as digestive juices are highly acidic, and these are secreted by various organs for metabolizing the food particles and aiding digestion.  

Factors causing peptic ulcers

  • Bacterial infections

A bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is responsible for contributing to ulcer formation in the inner linings of your stomach or the beginning portion of your small intestine, also known as the duodenum. Your stomach and duodenum consist of a thick mucus layer in their inner lining, which keeps them protected against harsh stomach acids. But the bacteria infect the walls and eat up the thick mucus wall, which exposes your stomach or small intestine to the acidic digestive juices. It inflames and irritates the stomach and intestinal walls.  

  • Pain reliever drugs

Some medications that are used for alleviating pain in the body can cause peptic ulcers. Specifically, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the contributors to ulcers. Moreover, These medications are widely used for alleviating pain and inflammation and bringing body temperature into the normal range. The long-term usage of these medications potentiates the risk of peptic ulcers. Also, consuming high-dose NSAIDs increases even more risk.  

The drugs can affect your stomach’s ability to shield itself by forming a protective barrier. The barrier is a thick mucus, which lines your stomach and duodenal walls. But the effect of these medications causes damage to the mucus and makes your stomach and duodenum prone to acid exposure. 

What happens if peptic ulcers are left untreated?

In some people, the presence of ulcers may not even give any indication. They remain asymptomatic throughout. It might get healed and disappear after some time, but some people may experience some symptoms, which mustn’t be ignored. The symptoms that confirm the presence of an ulcer are as follows:

  • Bloody vomit
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Dark or black stools


When the symptoms are ignored and if the condition is left untreated for a long time, then it might lead to severe complications. Timely treatment will reduce the risk of complications. Untreated stomach ulcers can increase the risk of developing complications that are given below: 

Perforation (a hole or a cavity in the stomach or duodenal wall)

Ulcer formation can cause the rupturing of a hole in the wall. Food particles, bacteria, as well as digestive juices may escape through the hole. This is a serious problem that needs immediate medical attention.   

Internal bleeding

When the ulcer forms on the blood vessels, it can cause a split and a tear in the blood vessels. It ruptures the blood vessels, and this is how the blood leaks out from the ruptured blood vessels. Internal bleeding happens, due to which the person may have bloody vomits and pass bloody or dark-colored stools.  


Sometimes the ulcer can cause an impediment to gastric emptying. It causes a blockage that prevents the food and fluids from passing through the small intestines.

Gastric cancer

The ulcer can become cancerous.

Factors that potentiate the risk of peptic ulcer

  • Family history of peptic ulcers
  • Overdose or long-term usage of NSAIDs
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Chronic smoking
  • Chronic illness such as kidney disease, liver, or lung disorders

Diagnosis of peptic ulcers  

When you experience several symptoms of ulcers, you must see your healthcare provider immediately, otherwise, denial of diagnosis and refusal of treatment will lead to the worsening of the symptoms, and the risk of complications increases. Your healthcare provider will prescribe the following tests:

H. pylori test

Your blood, stools, and breath will be tested to determine whether the cause of ulcers is Helicobacter pylori bacteria or not. If the tests come out to be positive, then they will prescribe antibiotics to kill off these bacteria.


This test is performed with an endoscope, which is a small flexible tube that has a tiny camera attached to it. This tube is inserted inside your mouth and down to your throat and stomach, to check for ulcers.  

Screening tests

An imaging scan generated using an X-ray or CT scan of your stomach and duodenum will detect the location of the ulcer and the damage it has caused.

Peptic ulcer treatment

Once the root cause of ulcers is determined with the help of diagnostic tests, your healthcare provider will rule out the appropriate treatment. Ulcers are mostly treated with medications. If the cause of ulcers is a bacterial infection, then antibiotics will be prescribed. Whereas ulcers are a result of NSAIDs, then the dose can be adjusted, or the medication intake can be stopped. Lastly, if the damage is severe and the ulcer has created a cavity in the organ, then they may suggest you get the hole sealed with a medical procedure.   

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