Intestinal ulcer

Understanding Intestinal Ulcers

An intestinal ulcer (also known as a peptic ulcer) is an open sore that develops on the lining of the stomach, upper small intestine, or lower esophagus. Intestinal ulcers result when the protective mucus coating the gastrointestinal lining becomes damaged or wears away, and stomach acid begins to eat away at the tissues below.

People of any age can develop an intestinal ulcer, however, there are several factors that increase the likelihood of developing one, including:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications, including aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • An infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which can live in the lining of the stomach and intestines

Symptoms of an intestinal ulcer may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody or black tarry stools

Fortunately, most intestinal ulcers can be effectively treated with a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes, medications, and in some cases, surgery. Since the factors that lead to an intestinal ulcer can vary from person to person, it's important to work with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan.