The stomach and intestine digest food using powerful acids and enzymes. The tissue lining the digestive tract avoids digesting itself by secreting a protective layer of mucus, regulating acidity and repairing itself. When these protections break down, ulcers result. The most common are in the duodenum and the stomach, and are called peptic ulcers.
Ulcers were formerly attributed to stress, alcohol and diet. It now appears that as many as 90% peptic ulcers result from infection by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are another common cause or factor.
An ulcer may cause no symptoms. The most common symptom is abdominal pain, especially when the stomach is empty. Less common are nausea, vomiting, indigestion, loss of appetite or weight, and fatigue. If the ulcer bleeds, the stool may be black or tarry. Acute or persistent pain, vomiting blood and bloody or black stool are serious symptoms and should be considered a medical emergency.
Treatment may include antibiotics, drugs to reduce acid and protect the mucosal lining and discontinuing NSAIDs. Smoking cessation and other lifestyle changes are also often suggested to avoid aggravating the ulcer and to promote healing.
Text and illustrations by Kevin T. Boyd
Duodenum (top of the small intestine)
Thinning mucus layer
Acupressure for ulcers
Here is a list of acupressure points for Peptic ulcer, Intestinal ulcer, Heartburn, Stomach ache, or Vomiting on PointFinder.org. You may also want to try finding points for the specific body part that hurts, using the friendly body browser or the A-Z list of symptoms and body areas.
If this is your first time, please read the instructions. Don’t use acupressure to replace standard emergency procedures or licensed medical treatment. If you are seriously injured or have acute symptoms seek urgent medical treatment.