Symptoms of Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcer disease may produce a number of symptoms, which may vary depending on the location of the ulcer, how long the disease lasted, and the pain tolerance of the individual:

Abdominal pain

  • Abdominal pain – pain in the epigastric region is probably the most common symptom of gastric ulcers. On the other hand duodenal ulcers might produce pain that is somewhat shifted to the right of the median line of the body. Also, depending on the location of the ulcer, the pain will appear at different times:
    • Pain associated with stomach ulcers usually appears right after eating, which may lead to the loss of appetite and weight loss.
    • Pain associated with duodenal ulcers usually appears due to hunger and approximately 3 hours after eating.
  • Extreme stabbing pain is usually the sign of perforation of gastric or duodenal ulcer. This is a very serious condition which should be addressed immediately, since it leads to peritonitis and eventually death.
  • Dyspepsia is another very common symptom that follows peptic ulcer disease. It is a non-specific reaction of the body to the problems in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract. It includes recurrent, chronic pain, bloating, belching, nausea, and heart burn.
  • Hematemesis (vomiting of blood) – if the ulcer that is located within the stomach starts to bleed, this symptom might appear. Depending on how fast the blood accumulates, the vomit can be either black (the blood accumulates slowly and it has time to be oxidized by the stomach acid) or it can be bright red (if the bleeding is substantial). The bright color of blood might also be caused by the fact that the source of the bleeding is the esophagus.
  • Melena – black, foul-smelling feces. This is a sign of a bleeding ulcer that is located in the duodenum. Its distinct color is attributed to the fact that blood has time to be oxidized as it passes through intestines.
  • Other non-specific symptoms include stomach heaviness after eating, feeling of being too full after eating, and loss of appetite, and decrease in body weight.

    If the patient notices a rapid decrease in body weight (by 10 kg and more), this could be a sign of malignization of the ulcer and should immediately undergo EGD with biopsy to exclude the possibility of cancer.