A stomach, or gastric, ulcer is a sore that forms on the lining of the stomach or duodenum (small intestine – sometimes known as a peptic ulcer). 

Usual causes of an ulcer are either the helicobacter pylori bacteria or taking anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin, in high doses or for a long period of time.

If your GP thinks you have a stomach ulcer, you will be tested for helicobacter pylori (HPB/H. pylori) and you may refer you to the hospital for a gastroscopy.

Helicobacter Pylori are a type of bacterial germ which live in the mucus which lines the stomach (gastric mucosa).  Although around 40% of people in the UK have HPB only 1 or 2 in 10 people experience any problems.

For those who are affected, around 15% can develop an ulcer in their stomach or duodenum (small intestine) which must be treated as they can occasionally become very serious and bleed or even burst or perforate. 

The most common symptoms of an ulcer are a burning pain in your tummy, sometimes making you feel like you are very hungry.  This can also be accompanied by indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux although some people do not have any symptoms at all.

Your GP will test for HPB either through a blood or stool (poo) test and treatment for an ulcer will be antibiotics and medicine to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, either a PPI (proton pump inhibitors) or H2 blocker (histamine receptor blocker). 

If the HPB test comes back negative, you will be prescribed PPIs and maybe a H2 blocker.

If you are experiencing symptoms which could be a sign of an ulcer, you must see your GP.

Please contact your GP or NHS 111 for immediate treatment if you are:

  • Passing dark, sticky, tar-like poo
  • You have a sudden, sharp pain in your stomach which gets worse.

Go to your nearest A&E department or call 999 immediately if you are:

  • Vomiting blood (which could be bright bred or be dark brown and have a grainy appearance like coffee grounds) as this could mean you have a serious complication such as internal bleeding.


Helicobacter pylori - Guts UK (gutscharity.org.uk)

Stomach ulcer - NHS (www.nhs.uk)