Stomach (Gastric) Ulcer - Symptoms

Authored by Dr Colin Tidy, 03 Feb 2015

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Prof Cathy Jackson, 03 Feb 2015

What are the symptoms of a stomach ulcer?

Pain in the upper tummy (abdomen) just below the breastbone (sternum) is the most common symptom. It usually comes and goes. It may be eased if you take antacid tablets. Sometimes food makes the pain worse. The pain may wake you from sleep.

Other symptoms which may occur include bloating, retching, feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting). You may also feel more 'full' than usual after a meal.

What are the symptoms of any complications?

Stomach ulcers can cause various complications but these are much less common now because of more effective treatments. However, complications can be very serious and include:

Bleeding from the ulcer

  • This can range from a 'trickle' to a life-threatening bleed.
  • If there is sudden heavy bleeding then this will cause you to vomit blood (this is called a haematemesis) and make you feel very faint.
  • Less sudden bleeding may cause you to vomit and the vomit looks coffee-coloured because the stomach acid has partly broken down the blood.
  • A more gradual trickle of blood will pass through your gut (bowel) and cause your stools (faeces) to look very dark in colour or even black (this is called melaena).

Perforation
This is the term used to describe the ulcer having gone all the way through (perforated) the wall of the stomach. Food and acid in the stomach then leak out of the stomach. This usually causes severe pain and makes you very unwell. Stomach perforation is a medical emergency and needs hospital treatment as soon as possible.

Stomach blockage
This is now rare. An ulcer at the end of the stomach can cause the outlet of the stomach (the part of the stomach that goes into the duodenum) to narrow and cause an obstruction. This can cause frequent severe vomiting.

Further reading and references

My Mother was experiencing severe pain across her ribs and back which the doctors say is indigestion but only now and again. She was put on Omeprazole about a month ago and after taking one in the...

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