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Peptic ulcer disease

Sores in the stomach or intestines

Peptic ulcer disease causes painful sores in the lining of the stomach or intestines. Often, an infection from Helicobacter pylori is the cause. Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen) can contribute to stomach ulcers.

Symptoms

Burning pain between the belly button and breastbone, most often when the stomach is empty. Pain may last from a few minutes to several hours, and may awaken a sleeping patient. Pain is often reduced by food, drink or antacids. Additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting with or without blood, blood in the stool and loss of appetite.

Diagnosis

A breath, blood or stool test for H. pylori; X-ray of the upper gastrointestinal tract; or endoscopy.

Treatment

Antibiotics and acid-blocking medications. In rare serious cases of bleeding or ulcers that fail to heal, surgery to repair or remove the ulcer may be done.