Dyspepsia. The most common symptoms of peptic ulcer are known collectively as dyspepsia. However, peptic ulcers can occur without dyspepsia or any other gastrointestinal symptoms, especially when they are caused by NSAIDs.
The most common peptic ulcer symptoms are abdominal pain, heartburn, and regurgitation (the sensation of acid backing up into the throat).
Other dyspepsia symptoms include:
- A feeling of fullness
- Hunger and an empty feeling in the stomach, often 1 - 3 hours after a meal
Many patients with the above symptoms do not have peptic ulcer disease or any other diagnosed condition. In that case, they have what is called functional dyspepsia.
Older patients are less likely to have symptoms than younger patients. A lack of symptoms may delay diagnosis, which may put older patients at greater risk for severe complications.
Recurrent abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms are common in children, and it is becoming the norm for pediatricians to screen for H. pylori infection in children with these symptoms. However, researchers have not been able to confirm a link between regular abdominal pain and H. pylori infection in children.
Ulcer Pain. Some symptoms are similar to those of gastric ulcers, although not everyone with these symptoms has an ulcer. The pain of ulcers can be in one place, or it can be all over the abdomen. The pain is described as a burning, gnawing, or aching in the upper abdomen, or as a stabbing pain penetrating through the gut. The symptoms may vary depending on the location of the ulcer:
Review Date: 07/18/2011
Reviewed By: Reviewed by: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.