Under normal circumstances, acid is produced in the stomach to aid digestion. The stomach also has several mechanisms to protect its lining against the highly corrosive acid. When there is an imbalance between acid production and the protective mechanisms, ulcers can form.
Vomiting of either fresh blood or black material (partially digested blood)
Passing of black, sticky stools
Sudden, severe generalised abdominal pain
Black, tarry stools
Recent unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of anaemia: lethargy, shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, or dizziness
Recurrent burning pain in the upper abdomen.
Assessment for peptic ulcer disease may include performing a gastroscopy to visualise the lining of the stomach and duodenum. If an ulcer is present, a biopsy of the ulcer can be taken to check for the presence of cancer cells.
A special test can also be performed on a small biopsy of the stomach lining to check for the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection.
A urea breath test can be done to rule out Helicobacter pylori infection.
The doctor will prescribe medication to either reduce acid secretion or to eradicate the Helicobacter pylori infection.
Surgery is required when complicated peptic ulcers do not heal, when uncontrolled bleeding occurs, or when ulcers prevent food from entering into the small intestine.
Helicobacter pylori infection
Drugs like aspirin and certain pain medications like Ponstan, Synflex, Indocid, etc.
Severe physiological stress such as severe injury or infection
Alcohol, especially binge drinking