Peptic Ulcer Disease: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Peptic ulcers are sores on the inside of the stomach or the small intestine. They are usually caused by an infection with bacteria or from use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve).

Your doctor may have prescribed medicine to reduce stomach acid. You also may need to take antibiotics if your peptic ulcers are caused by an infection. You can help your stomach heal and keep ulcers from coming back by making some changes in your lifestyle. Quit smoking, limit caffeine and alcohol, and reduce stress.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Do not take aspirin or other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Ask your doctor what you can take for pain.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make ulcers worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Drink in moderation or avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Do not drink beverages that have caffeine if they bother your stomach. These include coffee, tea, and soda.
  • Eat a balanced diet of small, frequent meals. Make an appointment with a dietitian if you need help planning your meals.
  • Reduce stress. Avoid people and places that make you feel anxious, if you can. Learn ways to reduce stress, such as biofeedback, guided imagery, and meditation.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You vomit blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • You pass maroon or very bloody stools.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • Your stools are black and look like tar, or they have streaks of blood.
  • You are vomiting.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not feel better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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