Is it GERD or an Ulcer?

Is a burning in the lower chest heartburn or a peptic ulcer? Drs. Rodgers and James discuss the difference and when to see a doctor.

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DR. RODGERS: For the last two weeks when Ben lays down to sleep, he has burning in his lower chest, and taking antacids only helps a bit. What’s going on?

Hi, I’m Dr. Griffin Rodgers with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at NIH.

One possibility is that Ben has heartburn. And, as I recently told you, persistent heartburn that does not respond to antacids can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

Or as my colleague, Dr. Stephen James, points out:

DR. JAMES: Ben’s persistent stomach pain might be something else, such as a peptic ulcer. The most common causes are medications called NSAIDS, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or a bacterial infection with H. pylori.

DR. RODGERS: Whether Ben has GERD or a peptic ulcer, his pain persists, so he should see a doctor.

For more about GERD and peptic ulcers, follow us on Twitter @NIDDKgov. This is Dr. Griffin Rodgers.

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