Causes for Upper abdominal pain

  • Male
  • Age:
  • Check any symptoms that apply:

Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)

Brief Overview of Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)

Description of Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)

An ulcer or erosion of the lining of the stomach. At times these ulcers can cause life-threatening bleeding. Rarely the ulcers are secondary to cancer. An infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) can increase the incidence and severity of the disease. The following conditions increase the risk of this disorder: drinking alcohol, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs / NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin), smoking, and physical stress (infections, trauma, hospital admission). Rarely the ulcer can extend through the entire lining of the stomach (perforation) and result in a life threatening abdominal infection (peritonitis).
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School

Symptoms of Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)

Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, vomiting blood, vomiting material that has the appearance of coffee grounds, black stools (melena), bloody stools, burning in chest.
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School

Tests for Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)


A history and physical exam will be performed. Other tests to determine the extent of disease include: nasogastric tube lavage, rectal exam, EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), and blood tests.


Complete blood count (CBC), Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), H. Pylori blood antibody test and Urea breath test (H. Pylori)

Additional tests that may be required

Endoscopy, EKG (electrocardiogram), lipase, x-ray, clotting studies, type and screen, Gastric culture

Do I Need This Test?

For pharmacological treatment of patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), long-term acid suppression therapy (proton pump inhibitors or histamine2 receptor antagonists) should be titrated to the lowest effective dose needed to achieve therapeutic goals. The main identifiable risk associated with reducing or discontinuing acid suppression therapy is an increased symptom burden. It follows that the decision regarding the need for (and dosage of) maintenance therapy is driven by the impact of those residual symptoms on the patient’s quality of life rather than as a disease control measure.

How this was created and why it is important

Choosing WiselyABIMMedical Society Icon

The American Gastroenterological Association and the ABIM foundation joined forces to develop and distribute evidence based recommendations on when medical tests and procedures may be appropriate. Content was written to help physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders to think, to practice and partake in shared decision making to avoid unnecessary and at times harmful tests and procedures based on your condition or symptoms. Choosing Wisely recommendations should not be used to establish coverage decisions or exclusions.


Family Practice, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Pediatric Gastroenterology and Pediatrics
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School

Treatment of Gastric ulcer (stomach ulcer)

Treatment depends on the severity of the illness and includes: proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole/Prilosec, pantoprazole/Protonix), H2 blockers (cimetidine/Tagamet, ranitidine/Zantac), endoscopic cauterization of bleeding, intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, antibiotics if caused by H. pylori, and hospitalization. Surgery may be necessary if complications, such as perforation or uncontrolled bleeding, develop.
Reviewed by Harvard Medical School