Peptic Ulcer Disease: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Peptic Ulcer Disease?

Peptic ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or duodenum. A burning stomach pain is the most common symptom. The pain
  • Starts between meals or during the night.
  • Stops if you eat or take antacids.
  • Comes and goes for several days or weeks.
  • A peptic ulcer in the stomach is called a gastric ulcer.
  • An ulcer in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer.

Recovery Time

  • It may take few days to several weeks (5 to 6) to recover from ulcers.
  • In few cases surgery is required; it may take longer time to recover from ulcers.


  • Blood tests
  • Breath test
  • Stool antigen test
  • Upper gastrointestinal X-ray
  • Endoscopy
  • Biopsy

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  How is smoking related to peptic ulcer disease?
Smokers have been found to have ulcers more frequently than non-smokers. Smoking appears to decrease healing rates, impair response to therapy, and increase ulcer-related complications such as perforation. Few of the reasons are altered gastric emptying, decreased proximal duodenal bicarbonate production, increased risk for H. pylori infection, and cigarette-induced generation of noxious mucosal free radicals.

Q2.  Is there a genetic relation to peptic ulcer disease?
Genetic predisposition may play a role in ulcer development. First-degree relatives of peptic ulcer patients are three times as likely to develop an ulcer.

Q3.  What is breath test? What is its basis?
The Urea Breath test (UBT) is a test for diagnosing the presence of a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in the Stomach. The test also may be used to demonstrate that H. pylori has been eliminated by treatment with antibiotics. The urea breath test is based on the ability of H. pylori to break down urea into carbon dioxide which then is absorbed from the stomach and eliminated in the breath. (Urea normally is produced by the body from excess or “waste” nitrogen-containing chemicals and then eliminated in the urine.)

Q4.  Why are spicy foods, milk, alcohol restricted in peptic ulcer disease?
Though they are not known to cause ulcers, spicy foods can make ulcers more painful.
Milk provides brief relief of ulcer pain because it coats the stomach lining. But milk also stimulates your stomach to produce more acid and digestive juices, which can aggravate ulcers. With the same principle spicy foods and alcohol are restricted.

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