Stomach Ulcer Symptoms: 6 Signs to Monitor

Updated in October 2023

The main symptom of a stomach ulcer is pain located about 4 to 5 fingers above your belly button that is tends to appear between meals or at night. It is often difficult to manage, even with medications that affect acid production. 

In addition to stomach pain, patients may also experience burning in the center of the chest, a constant sensation of feeling full, general malaise, dark stool and weight loss for no apparent reason. 

An ulcer is a stomach wound that is painful and worsens with stomach acid comes in contact with it. Stomach contents tend to be acidic, which irritates the area and cause inflammation. The main cause of stomach ulcers isH. pylori bacteria, although ulcer can also appear due to stress or anti-inflammatory use. 

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Common symptoms 

The main symptoms of a stomach ulcer are: 

  1. Feeling like you are constantly bloated
  2. Nausea and vomiting 
  3. Pain and burning in the throat or middle of the chest 
  4. General malaise
  5. Weight loss for no apparent reason
  6. Very dark or red stool

Red stool or vomiting is a sign of an active bleed, which should be assessed by a doctor promptly. The doctor will determine the area of the bleed, although it is often a result of chronic gastritis. Learn more about what different stool colors mean

Confirming a diagnosis

In most cases, the doctor may suspect a stomach ulcer just based on the presenting symptoms. However, the symptoms may be related to other digestive issues, which is why the doctor may order additional testing, like an endoscopy, to rule them out. 

Because H. pylori is one of the main causes of of stomach ulcers, the doctor may order a urea breath test, blood work or urine testing to determine whether an active infection is present. If confirmed, it will likely be treated with antibiotics. Read more about how H. pylori is treated and the natural options available.

Risk factors

Stomach ulcers are most commonly noted in people with an active H. pylori infection, as well as in people who chronically take anti-inflammatories. Ulcers can also appear in people who are under stress, who consume high amounts of fatty foods, and who drink or smoke excessively. 

Some patients may hae a genetic mutation that favors the appearance of gastritis and ulcers, however. These patients will usually have a positive family history of stomach ulcers.