Bleeding ulcer: What are the symptoms?

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Bleeding ulcer: What are the symptoms?

Question

What are the symptoms of a bleeding ulcer?

Monica
California

Answer

An untreated peptic ulcer — a sore in the lining of your stomach or small intestine — can cause internal bleeding. When this occurs, it's referred to as a bleeding ulcer. Signs and symptoms of a bleeding ulcer include:

  • Black, tarry, loose stools, sometimes with abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting blood, which may appear bright red or black like coffee grounds
  • Nausea, heartburn, indigestion or abdominal pain

Peptic ulcers usually cause pain due to stomach acid washing over the open sore. But when bleeding occurs, it may buffer the acid and decrease the pain. So, some people with bleeding ulcers may not have pain.

A bleeding ulcer is typically diagnosed by upper endoscopy. Treatment of a bleeding ulcer depends on the underlying cause. Acid blockers may temporarily relieve pain. If bleeding is severe, treatment may require endoscopy or surgery.

Last Updated: 07/14/2006
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