Definition & Facts for Peptic Ulcers (Stomach or Duodenal Ulcers)

In this section:

What is a peptic ulcer?

A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach or duodenum.

Do peptic ulcers have other names?

Peptic ulcers are sometimes called stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or peptic ulcer disease.

How common are peptic ulcers?

Researchers estimate about 1% to 6% of people in the United States have peptic ulcers.1

Who is more likely to develop peptic ulcers?

People are more likely to develop peptic ulcers if they are

H. pylori infection and taking NSAIDs are the two most common causes of peptic ulcers.

A close-up of peptic ulcers, showing damage to the stomach lining caused by H. pylori bacteria.People are more likely to develop peptic ulcers if they are infected with H. pylori bacteria.

People also are more likely to develop peptic ulcers if they

  • are older adults
  • had a peptic ulcer before
  • smoke

What are the complications of peptic ulcers?

Peptic ulcers can lead to complications such as

  • bleeding in your stomach or duodenum
  • a perforation, or hole, in the wall of your stomach or duodenum, which can lead to peritonitis, an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity
  • penetration of the ulcer through the stomach or duodenum and into another nearby organ
  • a blockage that can stop food from moving from your stomach into your duodenum


Last Reviewed September 2022
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.