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Peptic Ulcer Disease - What Happens

Many people who have peptic ulcers may not see a doctor when their symptoms begin. Their symptoms, such as belly pain, may come and go. Even without treatment, some ulcers will heal by themselves.

And even with treatment, ulcers sometimes come back. Certain factors such as cigarette smoking and continued use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase the risk of ulcers coming back.

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Sometimes ulcers can cause complications, such as bleeding, perforation, penetration, or obstruction. That's why it's important to treat an ulcer, even if you have one that isn't causing any symptoms.

Most peptic ulcers without complications heal, regardless of the cause. But an ulcer is likely to come back if you have an H. pylori infection that is not successfully treated. Recurring ulcers caused by reinfection with H. pylori are not common in the United States, except in areas that are overcrowded or have poor sanitation.

Ulcers in the stomach (gastric ulcers) often heal more slowly than ulcers in the upper small intestine (duodenal ulcers).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 04, 2012
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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