What Causes Ulcers?
No single cause has been found for ulcers. However, it is now clear that an ulcer is the end result of an imbalance between digestive fluids in the stomach and duodenum. Most ulcers are caused by an infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
Factors that can increase your risk for ulcers include:
Use of painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn, and others), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, some types of Midol, and others), and many others available by prescription; even safety-coated aspirin and aspirin in powered form can frequently cause ulcers.
Excess acid production from gastrinomas, tumors of the acid producing cells of the stomach that increases acid output (seen in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome)
Excessive drinking of alcohol
Smoking or chewing tobacco
Radiation treatment to the area
What Are the Symptoms of an Ulcer?
An ulcer may or may not have symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:
A gnawing or burning pain in the middle or upper stomach between meals or at night
Nausea or vomiting
In severe cases, symptoms can include:
Dark or black stool (due to bleeding)
Vomiting blood (that can look like "coffee-grounds")
Severe pain in the mid to upper abdomen