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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).

    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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