Peptic Ulcer Disease - Treatment Overview
No matter what is causing your ulcer, it is important
to stop taking NSAIDs and to quit smoking.
If you feel that you need to
continue to use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) after being
diagnosed with a
peptic ulcer, work with your doctor to find an
alternative pain reliever. Use of NSAIDs can slow the healing of an ulcer or
even prevent it from healing. If you must continue to use NSAIDs, your
doctor may recommend that you take an NSAID that is less likely to cause ulcers. Or your doctor may prescribe a medicine that you take daily to help prevent ulcers. Medicines that help prevent ulcers include:
If ulcer symptoms do not respond to
follow up with your doctor to be sure
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria have been identified and treated. Most
peptic ulcers are caused by infection with H. pylori
bacteria. Persistent infection will likely be treated with an alternate
combination of medicines. Antibiotic treatment for H. pylori should be taken exactly according to your doctor's instructions
for it to be effective.
Tests such as the urea breath test and a
stool antigen test can determine whether an H. pylori
infection has been cured. If you have a history of
ulcer complications or a family history of stomach
cancer, you may need an
endoscopy so that your doctor can look at the inside
of your stomach and upper small intestine to see whether an ulcer is present.
An endoscopy can also be used to collect a tissue sample (biopsy) that can be
tested for H. pylori or cancer. For more information on
these tests, see the Exams and Tests section of this topic.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
caused by an infection with
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria will likely be treated with a different
combination of medicines.
Your doctor may conduct
follow-up tests to find out whether an infection with
H. pylori has continued or returned. Tests for
H. pylori may include a test of your breath or stool and a biopsy of your stomach lining. For more information on these tests,
see the Exams and Tests section of this topic.
If you have
complications from a
peptic ulcer such as bleeding or obstruction, you may
endoscopy, even if you have already had one. If your
stomach or intestine has a perforation or your ulcer continues to bleed despite
treatment, you may require surgery. But surgery is rarely used to treat an
What To Think About
Risk of not treating ulcers
- Left untreated, many ulcers eventually
heal. But ulcers often recur if the cause of the ulcer is not eliminated or
treated. If ulcers keep coming back, you have an increased risk of developing a
- If treatment for your ulcer does not work to
heal the ulcer, your doctor will most likely suggest that you see a
gastroenterologist. The gastroenterologist will do an
endoscopy to look at your ulcer and to take a tissue sample (biopsy).