Peptic ulcers are open sores in your digestive tract. When they’re located inside your stomach, they’re also called gastric ulcers. When they are found in the upper part of your small intestine, they are called duodenal ulcers.
Some people aren’t even aware they have an ulcer. Others have symptoms like heartburn and abdominal pain. Ulcers can become very dangerous if they perforate the gut or bleed heavily (also known as a hemorrhage).
What are the symptoms of an ulcer?
Ulcers don't always cause symptoms. In fact, only about one quarter of people with ulcers experience symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- abdominal pain
- bloating or a feeling of fullness
Symptoms may be a little different for each person. In some cases, eating a meal can ease the pain. In others, eating only makes things worse.
An ulcer can bleed so slowly that you don’t notice it. The first signs of a slow-bleeding ulcer are symptoms of anemia, which include:
- pale skin color
- shortness of breath with physical activity
- lack of energy
An ulcer that is bleeding heavily may cause:
- stool that is black and sticky
- dark red or maroon colored blood in your stool
- bloody vomit with the consistency of coffee grounds
- Rapid bleeding from an ulcer is a life-threatening event. If you have these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.