Peptic ulcer: A peptic ulcer is a sore that forms when digestive juices wear away the lining of the digestive system.

A peptic ulcer can occur in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or lower part of the esophagus.

Symptoms can include indigestion-like pain, nausea, and weight loss.

Globally, it is estimated that up to 10 percent of adults are affected by peptic ulcers at least once in their lifetime. In the United States, around 500,000 people develop a peptic ulcer each year.

When a peptic ulcer affects the stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer, one in the duodenum is called a duodenal ulcer, and an esophageal ulcer is an ulcer in the esophagus.

The most common causes are Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Fast facts on peptic ulcers:

  • Peptic ulcers can affect anywhere in the digestive system.
  • Symptoms include stomach pain, sometimes feeling like indigestion, and nausea.
  • Causes include bacteria and certain types of medication.
  • Treatments include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and antibiotics.