What is a Bleeding Stomach Ulcer?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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An ulcer that is allowed to progress and eat away at the wall of the stomach may damage nearby blood vessels and become a bleeding stomach ulcer. The most common cause of this issue is when a normal ulcer is left untreated and grows worse. Patients suffering from this complication may experience progressively more debilitating symptoms, from abdominal pain to blood in their stool or severe anemia. The condition is potentially dangerous and in some cases even fatal, and treatment should be supervised by a doctor.

The effects of a bleeding stomach ulcer typically become more severe as the condition worsens. For some, the condition may be very painful, while in others the bleeding may act as a barrier to the stomach acid and actually decrease pain, which can mask the severity of the problem. Patients may vomit or spit up blood or have tarry stools with blood in them. Ongoing internal bleeding may lead to anemia, which often makes the person feel tired and lose weight; if the blood loss is excessive, a blood transfusion may be necessary. In the most extreme cases, patients may lose consciousness or even die.


Certain behaviors can put patients with ulcers at higher risk of developing a bleeding ulcer. Smoking, in particular, increases the acid in the stomach, which can cause an ulcer to worsen and also make it harder for it to heal. Alcohol and caffeine are also known to have negative effects on an ulcer. Stress is also a risk factor.

Initial treatment for a bleeding stomach ulcer is with medication. The most commonly used drugs are known as proton pump inhibitors. They decrease the amount of acid being produced which in turn helps the ulcer heal. Pain relievers may be used, although non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, should be avoided, as they can make the problem worse. In cases where the ulcer was caused by the H. pylori bacteria, antibiotics may also be necessary.

Sometimes surgery is necessary to repair a bleeding stomach ulcer. One of the most common and successful techniques is known as endoscopy, where an endoscope is used to locate and repair the ulcer by cauterizing it. In some cases, the procedure needs to be repeated if the first attempt is not successful. If repeat attempts do not work, another alternative is abdominal surgery to go in and suture the ulcer closed.


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Post 1

My partner was at the hospital because he was vomiting blood. We were there for nine hours. They took blood, gave him a cardiograph and a rectum examination and had him on a drip. We don't know what was in it. The surgeon said he was to wait till six o'clock to see if he was vomiting blood and to wait for blood results.

Five hours later we got blood results saying everything was OK, so nine hours later, they said he could leave. They won't know what is wrong until they operate and if he vomits blood again, he has to go back. He never got the results of his rectum examination.

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