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Stomach Ulcer Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers) should always be treated by a doctor.
  • Your doctor will probably recommend taking OTC or prescription proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • You will likely need to see a doctor in person.
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Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding (black tarry stool)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

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All treatments for stomach ulcer
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When to see a healthcare provider

Stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers) are sores or breaks in the stomach lining that should be treated by a doctor. Your treatment will start with diagnosing the stomach ulcer and determining what caused it, because your ulcer treatment will depend on the cause.

It’s important to get medicine for stomach ulcers, because if they don’t heal, ulcers can cause long-term problems.

If you have H pylori, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it. You may also be given an acid suppressing medication, called a proton pump inhibitor (Nexium, Prilosec). You take these for 4–6 weeks.

How do doctors check for stomach ulcers?

Stomach ulcers are sometimes diagnosed based on your symptoms along with lab testing. They will look for ulcers and the cause of the ulcers. The two main causes are having an infection with the H. pylori bacteria, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and aspirin.

They can test for H. pylori bacteria using a breath test, stool tests, and blood tests.

Your doctor may want to do an endoscopy, which is the definitive way to diagnose an ulcer. This is when a flexible tube with a camera is placed through the mouth into the stomach, allowing the doctor to look for ulcers.

What to expect from your visit

If you are diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, your doctor will prescribe medications.

  • If you have H. pylori infection, you will need to take antibiotics. There are a few types of regimens for H pylori (usually a combination of 3–4 medications that you take for 10–14 days each). Antibiotic treatment lasts about 4–6 weeks.
  • Your doctor may also recommend proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications to reduce stomach acid. They may prescribe stronger PPIs than you can get over-the-counter.
  • There are different types of acid-suppressing medications they can prescribe or they may try higher doses to find a treatment plan that works. Certain types of medications may also stop the acid from damaging the stomach.
  • A doctor will also discuss your current medications and any OTC medications you’re taking to make sure nothing else is irritating your stomach.
  • If you start new medications, check with your doctor to see if they’re safe to take.
  • Depending on what the ulcer looks like, or if you had any complications (like bleeding), your doctor may want to do a second endoscopy about 6–8 weeks after you started treatment to make sure that the ulcer healed.

What is the best medication for stomach ulcers?

Medications may include several different antibiotics (if the ulcer is caused by H. pylori) and acid-suppressing medicines. Examples of acid-suppressing medicines include:

  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Protanprozole (Protonix)
  • Dexlansoprazole (Dexilant)
  • Rabeprazole (Aciphex)

What doctor to see for a stomach ulcer

  • A gastroenterologist is a digestive disease specialist.
  • A primary care provider can help diagnose and treat a stomach ulcer too, but if you need an endoscopy, the gastroenterologist will do that test.
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