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Lakes DHB Gastroenterology

Public Service, Gastroenterology & Hepatology (Liver)

Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers are sores or eroded areas that form in the lining of the digestive tract. They usually occur in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or in the duodenum (duodenal ulcer), which is the first part of the small intestine.

People with peptic ulcers can have a wide variety of symptoms and signs, can be completely symptom-free or, much less commonly, can develop potentially life-threatening complications such as bleeding. Signs and symptoms of ulcers include:

  • pain / burning or discomfort (usually in the upper abdomen)
  • bloating
  • an early sense of fullness with eating
  • lack of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • bleeding, which might be seen as blood in the stool, either in noticeable or microscopic amounts. Sometimes this will show as black and tarry stools that smell bad.
Smoking, alcohol, anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen or diclofenac) and aspirin increase the risk of developing ulcers.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that is frequently found in the stomach and is a major cause of stomach ulcers.  If this is found when you have a gastroscopy you will be given a course of antibiotics.

This page was last updated at 1:46PM on August 9, 2021.