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Peptic Ulcers (cont.)

What's the prognosis for a person with a peptic ulcer?

  • Most people with peptic ulcers get better when treated with the appropriate medicine.
  • Treatment for H pylori bacteria is usually successful if medications are taken as prescribed.
  • Although ulcers can cause discomfort, they are rarely life threatening.
  • Ulcers can have several complications. These usually develop in people who do not receive appropriate treatment. Complications of ulcers may require emergency treatment including endoscopy or surgery. Complications may be severe and can even result in death if not treated promptly.

Bleeding: Ulcers in the stomach or duodenum may bleed.

  • Usually, this is because the blood vessel (artery) supplying the area of the ulcer has been damaged by stomach acid.
  • Sometimes this is the only sign of an ulcer.
  • Bleeding may be slow or fast.
  • Slow bleeding is typically from a small blood vessel; the usual result is low blood count (anemia), and the symptoms are tiredness (fatigue), lethargy, and pallor.
  • Fast bleeding is typically from a larger artery, and symptoms including vomiting acidified blood, which looks something like coffee grounds, or passage of bloody or black, tarry stools.

Perforation: When an ulcer gets very bad, it can eat all the way through the intestinal wall.

  • The resulting hole in the intestine is called perforation.
  • The contents of the intestine (food, bacteria, and digestive juices) can then spill out.
  • These substances can injure other tissues and cause serious infection.

Obstruction: An ulcer causes inflammation.

  • If this inflammation becomes chronic (ongoing, long lasting), it can cause swelling and scarring.
  • Over time, this scarring can completely block off the digestive tract.
  • This blocks food from passing, causing vomiting and weight loss.


Anand, BS., MD. "Peptic Ulcer Disease." Medscape. Updated Jan 2015.

Crowe, S. E., MD. "Patient information: Peptic ulcer disease (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate. Updated Dec 05, 2013

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/24/2015

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Peptic Ulcers - Symptoms

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Peptic Ulcer Disease »

Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a common disorder that affects millions of individuals in the United States each year.

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