Peptic Ulcers and Dyspepsia

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Peptic Ulcers and Dyspepsia

Topic Overview

Dyspepsia is a common condition that may cause abdominal symptoms that feel like an ulcer. Dyspepsia usually describes a group of symptoms rather than one predominant symptom. These symptoms, which also may occur with a peptic ulcer, include:

  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling uncomfortably full after eating.
  • Nausea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Heartburn.
  • Burping up food or liquid (regurgitation).
  • Burping.

Most people will experience some symptoms of dyspepsia within their lifetimes. Most of these people do not have peptic ulcer disease, which means that they do not have sores related to their dyspepsia.

Your doctor may use tests such as an endoscopy or an upper gastrointestinal series to find out what may be causing your symptoms and to be sure the dyspepsia is not caused by peptic ulcer disease. See the Exams and Tests section of this topic for more information.

You can make changes to your lifestyle to help relieve your symptoms of dyspepsia. Here are some things to try:

  • Change your eating habits.
    • It’s best to eat several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
    • After you eat, wait 2 to 3 hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren’t a good idea.
    • Chocolate, mint, and alcohol can make dyspepsia worse. They relax the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
    • Spicy foods, foods that have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make dyspepsia worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get better.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
  • If you get dyspepsia at night, raise the head of your bed 6 to 8 inches by putting the frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows does not work.)
  • Do not wear tight clothing around your middle.
  • Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Last Revised January 28, 2010

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