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Peptic ulcers do not always cause symptoms. Symptoms may come and go. Food or fluids sometimes make symptoms better. Having an empty stomach may make symptoms worse. However, symptoms can occur at any time.

Symptoms may 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
    • May be relieved by taking antacids
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Weight loss

Ulcers can cause serious problems and severe abdominal pain. One problem is bleeding. Bleeding symptoms may include:

  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Vomiting what looks like coffee grounds or blood
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness

A perforated ulcer is a break through the wall of the stomach or duodenum. It causes sudden and severe pain.

Revision Information

  • H. pylori and peptic ulcers. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hpylori/index.aspx . Updated April 30, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Meurer LN, Bower DJ. Management of helicobacter pylori infection. Am Fam Physician . 2002;65(7):1327-36.

  • Peptic ulcer disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed April 29, 2013.

  • Understanding peptic ulcer disease. American Gastroenterological Association website. Available at: http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/digestive-conditions/peptic-ulcer-disease . Published April 23, 2010. Accessed April 29, 2013.