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What Causes Bleeding Ulcers?

What Causes Bleeding Ulcers?

Bleeding ulcers can be caused by bacterial infections, the use of certain medications, lifestyle choices, or some combination of these factors.

What Are Bleeding Ulcers?

Bleeding ulcers are perforations in the lining of your stomach or the small intestines.  They are seldom much larger than an inch in diameter, but they can cause a great deal of pain.  You will feel the pain anywhere from your navel to your diaphragm, and you will notice that it tends to come and go.  Typically, the pain tends to worsen when your stomach is empty.   Other symptoms associated with bleeding ulcers may include nausea and vomiting, weight loss, and the appearance of “coffee ground” material in the stool.

Bacterial Infections

The Helicobacter pylori bacterium commonly thrives in the mucous layers of the stomach and intestines.  Though in most cases the presence of this bacteria goes undetected, it is responsible for nine out of ten peptic ulcers worldwide. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] H. pylori causes ulcers by burrowing through the mucous lining of the stomach and small intestine, which allows the strong digestive acids produced by glands in the stomach to leak out.


In large dosages, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen inhibit the production of prostaglandins that protect the stomach lining from damage.  Oral anticoagulants and corticosteroid medications are also linked to ulcer development.  The American College of Gastroenterology reports that both these medications potentiate the effects of NSAIDs, increasing the risk of developing a bleeding ulcer by a factor of 12.


Alcohol increases the amount of acid produced by the stomach.  Excessive alcohol use erodes the mucous lining of the stomach, increasing the risk of developing a bleeding ulcer.


Smoking also increases the risk of developing a bleeding ulcer.  Nicotine increases both the volume and pH of stomach acid and inhibits healing throughout the body.



“Economics of Peptic Ulcer Disease and H. Pylori Infection | CDC Ulcer.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012.

“Aspirin and NSAIDS | ACG Patients.” ACG Patients | Just another American College of Gastroenterology Network site. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012. .

“H. pylori and Peptic Ulcers – National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012. .

“Peptic ulcer –” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2012. .


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