The main sign of a stomach ulcer is burning pain, and other signs of a stomach ulcer may seem to pale in comparison. The pain is caused by a peptic ulcer, or a small hole in the wall of the stomach, and it is exacerbated by stomach acid and other digestive fluids that come into contact with the ulcer. The type and location of the burning pain may vary, although if the ulcer is actually in the stomach (as opposed to other types of ulcers - duodenal and esophageal), it will probably cause pain in the upper abdomen.
The burning sensation can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours, although it usually starts between meals or in the middle of the night and worsens when your stomach is empty. The pain from a stomach ulcer can come and go over the course of several days or even weeks. If you have a stomach ulcer, you my feel some relief after eating specific foods, which provide a buffer against the stomach acid, as well as after taking medication to reduce the amount of stomach acid your body produces.
Other Signs of a Stomach Ulcer
Although the burning pain is usually the main symptom, other signs of a stomach ulcer include bloating, frequent burps and hiccups, heartburn, and nausea. A person with a stomach ulcer may also experience a sudden loss of appetite, as well as unusual weight loss. They may feel so nauseous that they vomit, although blood in the vomit can signal a very severe case. Call your doctor immediately if this happens. If you have a stomach ulcer, you may also have unusual bowel movements, possibly blackish or red with blood. This is also a sign of severe ulceration that requires immediate treatment, and a doctor should be contacted immediately if you experience this symptom.
Over a period of time, ulcers can grow larger and larger if they are left untreated. They can also lead to more severe problems, such as internal bleeding, broken blood vessels, a hole in the wall of the digestive tract, or an obstruction in the digestive tract that blocks it, so that food cannot pass through the stomach to the duodenum of the small intestines.
Signs of these complications include very sudden, piercing pains in the stomach area that continue over a period of time, bloody or black bowel movements, and vomit that looks like coffee grounds or contains blood. It is important to call a doctor immediately if you suspect any of these complications from an ulcer. You may need surgery to correct both the ulcer and any additional damage.