Stomach ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. They occur when the protective mucus that lines the stomach becomes ineffective.

The stomach produces a strong acid to help digest food and protect against microbes. To protect the tissues of the body from this acid, it also secretes a thick layer of mucus.

If the mucus layer is worn away and stops functioning effectively, the acid can damage the stomach tissue, causing an ulcer.

An estimated one in every ten people in Western countries will have an ulcer in the stomach or small intestine at some point in their lives.

Stomach ulcers are relatively easy to cure, but they can cause significant problems if left untreated.

Fast facts on stomach ulcers

  • Stomach ulcers are common in the West and easy to treat but can become serious.
  • The most common causes are bacteria and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • The classic symptom of a stomach ulcer is indigestion.
  • Treatment for stomach ulcers normally focuses on removing the cause.

Symptoms