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Gastric Ulcer Symptoms & Diagnosis


Peptic ulcers do not always cause symptoms. Symptoms may come and go. Food may increase gastric ulcer pain. Food will often relieve duodenal ulcer pain.

Symptoms include:

  • Gnawing pain
    • May awaken you from sleep
    • May change when you eat
    • May last for a few minutes or several hours
    • Feels like unusually strong hunger pangs
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Burping

Ulcers can cause serious problems and severe abdominal pain. Problems include:

  • Bleeding—symptoms may include:
    • Black, tarry stools
    • Vomiting what looks like coffee grounds
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Anemia
  • Perforated ulcer—a breaking through the wall of the stomach or duodenum that will cause:
    • Sudden and severe pain
  • Scar tissue that narrows and eventually closes off the outlet of the stomach to the intestines and can cause:
    • Vomiting
    • Weight loss
    • Intense pain

Duodenal Ulcer

duodenal ulcer
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tell your doctor about all medication you are taking.

Tests may include:

  • Rectal exam and stool guaiac test —to test for hidden blood
  • Blood test or breath test—to check for H pylori infection
    • A blood test can also check for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
  • Upper GI series —a series of x-rays of the upper digestive system taken after drinking a barium solution
  • Endoscopy—a thin, lighted tube inserted down the throat to look inside the digestive tract used to:
    • Obtain tissue samples to test for H pylori infection or for cancer
    • Eliminate other serious causes of gastrointestinal symptoms

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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