Food enters the stomach from the esophagus. There, it's broken down by the acid and various enzymes the stomach produces so its nutrients can be absorbed in the small intestine. The inside wall of the stomach is protected from the acid and enzymes by a mucous lining.
Ulcers come about as a result of an imbalance between the stomach's digestive juices and the factors that protect its lining.
Symptoms can include bleeding. And on rare occasions, an ulcer may completely erode the stomach wall.
The bacteria Helicobacter pylori is a major cause of ulcers. Treatment typically includes medications to suppress the stomach acid and antibiotics to eradicate the infection.
Review Date 5/2/2023
Updated by: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.