Peptic ulcers are sores on the inside of the stomach. Or they may be on the inside of the small intestine (such as a duodenal ulcer). They are most often caused by an infection with bacteria or from use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).
Your doctor may have prescribed medicine to reduce stomach acid. You also may need to take antibiotics if your peptic ulcers are caused by an infection. You can help yourself heal and keep ulcers from coming back. You can do this by making some changes in your lifestyle. Quit smoking. Limit alcohol.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
- Do not take aspirin or other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Ask your doctor what you can take for pain.
- Do not smoke. Smoking can make ulcers worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
- Drink in moderation or avoid drinking alcohol.
- Eat a balanced diet of small, frequent meals. See a dietitian if you need help planning your meals.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
- You pass maroon or very bloody stools.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse belly pain.
- Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
- You vomit.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
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