A peptic ulcer is a sore or hole that forms in the lining of the stomach or intestine.
The word "peptic" refers to the digestive tract. An ulcer in the lining of the stomach is a gastric ulcer. An ulcer in the first part of the small intestine is a duodenal ulcer.
The lining of the stomach is a layer of special cells and mucous. Mucous prevents the stomach and duodenum from being damaged by acid and digestive enzymes.
If there is a break in the lining (such as an ulcer), the tissue under the lining can be damaged by the enzymes and corrosive acid. If the ulcer is small, there may be few symptoms. The wound can heal on its own.
If the ulcer is deep, it can cause serious pain or bleeding. Rarely, acids in the digestive juices may eat completely through the stomach or duodenum wall.
Peptic ulcers are very common. They become more common as people age.
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