Pain is no fun, and you don't need a doctor to tell you that. But as a doctor, I see all different kinds of pains, in terms of severity and cause. There is the pain of a severe cut or bruise, but then there are those pains that stitches and ice can't help with - pains on the inside.

Like… ulcers.

The most common type of ulcers found in the GI tract are called peptic ulcers

Peptic ulcer disease is defined as a defect in the lining of the stomach or the upper small intestine. 

Symptoms of a peptic ulcer:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • And, in bad cases, vomiting blood
  • There can also be bleeding in your stomach/GI tract that will present as black stool

Common causes of peptic ulcers can be medications. Such as Advil, Motrin, ibuprofen, Alleve, Naproxen, Goodies, and others. In addition, a bacteria called H pylori can be found in the stomach which can lead to ulcers.

When these symptoms and pains are present, we'll ordinarily do an upper endoscopy to be sure that a peptic ulcer is what we are dealing with.

Once diagnosed, we'll treat you with acid suppression medications (Prilosec, etc.) to hopefully relieve the area of the stress and allow the body the space (literally) to be able to heal. It's when these things go untreated that they linger that complications can occur such as perforation.

Up front - sometimes these things just happen, and I can't tell you why. An increase in stress - for whatever reason (psychological, physiological, etc.) - that raises the acid levels in your stomach and GI tract puts you at risk.

However, there are a few activities that increase your risk. I'd recommend avoiding these.

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Overuse of aspirin and/or NSAIDs

Again, pain is no fun, especially when the option simply of "rest it" or "ice it" isn't available to you. (You can't ice your insides.) When you have these symptoms present, PLEASE go see your doctor so that they can get you the appropriate testing and medication your body needs to get you back to living without ulcers.

Dr. Murat Akdamar