Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2015;91(4):online

See related article on peptic ulcer disease and H. pylori infection

What is a stomach ulcer?

These ulcers are sores in your stomach. They are often caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (hel-i-ko-back-ter pie-lore-ee). They can also be caused by taking certain medicines, like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen.

What are the symptoms?

Stomach ulcers can cause pain or burning in the middle of your stomach, just under your rib cage. This is called dyspepsia. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms because other problems may cause similar pain.

How do I know if I have H. pylori?

It is common in people of all ages. Your doctor can test your blood, stool, or breath to see if you have the bacteria. Your doctor will decide what type of test is best for you. You should also tell your doctor what medicines you are taking.

Your doctor might use a small tube with a camera on the end, called an endoscope, to look down your throat and into your stomach to see the ulcer better.

What do I do if I have H. pylori?

Your doctor will give you antibiotics to treat the infection. You might need two or three antibiotics. You will also need to take medicine to decrease the acid in your stomach so that the ulcer can heal. It is important to take the medicine exactly how your doctor tells you and to take all of the medicine.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

AAFP's Patient Education Resource

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

National Institutes of Health

Continue Reading

More in AFP

More in PubMed

Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.