While the symptoms of peptic ulcer vary from person to person, the most common include abdominal discomfort, pain, and nausea. The discomfort or pain is sometimes described as gnawing or burning. Antacids may give temporary relief, but the pain usually returns shortly.
The pain that signals a stomach, or gastric, ulcer is usually aggravated by eating—and especially by spicy or greasy foods—but the foods or drinks that trigger ulcer pain vary from person to person. Many patients with stomach ulcers avoid meals and consequently lose weight. In contrast, duodenal ulcer pain may be relieved by food. Patients with duodenal ulcers may gain weight.
The pain of ulcer disease correlates poorly with the presence or severity of active ulceration. Some patients have persistent pain even after an ulcer is completely healed by medication. Others experience no pain at all, even though ulcers return. Ulcers often come and go spontaneously without the individual ever knowing, unless a serious complication occurs.
The symptoms of serious complications from ulcers may be more important than the symptoms of ulcers themselves, since complications usually require emergency treatment. Symptoms of serious complications include tarry stools, extreme abdominal pain, and vomiting or vomiting blood.
Last reviewed on 7/28/09
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