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Peptic Ulcer Disease - Symptoms

Common symptoms

Common ulcer symptoms include:

  • A burning, aching pain—or a pain that feels like hunger—between the navel and the breastbone. The pain sometimes extends to the back.
  • Belly pain that can last from a few minutes to a few hours and that usually goes away for a while after you take an antacid or acid reducer.
  • Weeks of pain that comes and goes and may alternate with pain-free periods.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Bloating or nausea after eating.

Less common symptoms

Less common but more serious symptoms of ulcers include:

  • Vomiting after meals.
  • Vomiting blood and/or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Black stools that look like tar, or stools that contain dark red blood.

Ulcers and pains

Symptoms of ulcers in the upper small intestine (duodenal ulcers) and in the stomach (gastric ulcers) are similar, except for when pain occurs.

  • Pain from a duodenal ulcer may occur several hours after you eat (when the stomach is empty) and may improve after you eat. Pain also may wake you in the middle of the night.
  • Pain from a gastric ulcer may occur shortly after you eat (when food is still in your stomach).

Silent ulcers

Some ulcers don't cause symptoms. These are known as silent ulcers. Silent ulcers are more common in:

Symptoms in children

In children, symptoms vary with age:

  • Toddlers and young children may complain of general stomach pain.
  • Teenagers may have symptoms more like those of adults.

The symptoms of an ulcer often can be confused with other abdominal conditions, such as dyspepsia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 15, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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