Your stomach has a lining designed to protect you from acidic digestive juices. But if the lining is no longer effective, you can develop an ulcer ― an open sore in your stomach or small intestine.

What's a stomach ulcer?

A stomach ulcer is a sore or break in the stomach lining. Ulcers occur when digestive acids damage the lining. Most stomach ulcers are caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium or overuse of drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.

What does a stomach ulcer feel like?

The most common symptom of a stomach ulcer is a burning sensation in your upper abdomen. The pain usually gets worse when your stomach is empty. And ulcers can cause nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding or a hole in the stomach. 

How do you treat stomach ulcers?

Treating ulcers on your own can bring temporary pain relief, but they tend to come back. Find a Mercy gastroenterologist to help you manage your condition. For ulcers caused by bacteria, your gastroenterologist may prescribe antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). If your ulcer was caused by drugs like ibuprofen, you can stop taking them and take PPIs. Surgery may be needed for ulcers that don’t heal, bleed, are perforated or prevent the stomach from emptying. 

Can stress cause stomach ulcers?

No. Emotional stress doesn’t cause stomach ulcers to form – but stress can lead to stomach upset, making ulcer symptoms worse.

How long do stomach ulcers last?

Stomach ulcers can last several months or longer, depending on how severe they are and whether you have complications. Talk with a Mercy gastroenterologist for more information.

Do stomach ulcers go away on their own?

Sometimes stomach ulcers go away on their own – but they tend to come back without proper treatment. A Mercy gastroenterologist can help you find the right treatment for this painful condition.

How do you relieve stomach ulcer pain?

Antacids help neutralize the acid in your stomach, which can bring fast pain relief. While your doctor may include an antacid in your treatment plan to relieve pain, antacids aren’t effective at healing ulcers.

How long does it take a stomach ulcer to heal?

Uncomplicated stomach ulcers can take several months to heal completely. Talk with a Mercy gastroenterologist to learn more.

Find a Gastroenterologist

Mercy has stomach ulcer specialists across most our communities. 

Find a gastroenterologist near you.