Stomach Ulcer or Acid Reflux

Stomach ulcers and acid reflux are two of the most commonly confused conditions. Below, you will find the differences between Stomach Ulcers vs Acid Reflux, including differences and commonalities in symptoms.


Stomach Ulcer vs Reflux Symptoms

While some stomach ulcer symptoms are different from reflux symptoms, there are a lot of commonalities as well. Here are some common symptoms and whether they are related to stomach ulcers or acid reflux.

  • Frequent burning pain – Both GERD and peptic ulcers an cause frequent burning pain. There are a few differences: GERD typically results in burning pain that rises into the chest, whereas peptic ulcer burning pain is restrained to the stomach. The burning pain associated with GERD is typically worse after eating a large meal, whereas many people with stomach ulcers report relief after eating.
  • Nausea – Both acid reflux and stomach ulcers can cause nausea, but it is more common with stomach ulcers to become sick to your stomach.
  • Irritated by certain foods – Both ulcers and acid reflux can be increased by consuming certain foods. For example, spicy food commonly leads to heartburn, but it can also irritate an existing ulcer. Irritating foods themselves do not lead to ulcers.
  • Position dependence – The hallmark sign of acid reflux is that symptoms can change based on position. Heartburn increases when you lay down or bend forward, as this allows the stomach’s contents to not be restrained via gravity. Stomach ulcers will hurt regardless of position, whereas heartburn can increase in intensity based on position.
  • Blood in stool or vomit – while rare (and the sign of a condition that needs immediate medical attention), blood in the vomit (with the appearance of coffee grounds) or in the stool (black in appearance) is much more indicative of a bleeding stomach ulcer than it is of heartburn.


Stomach Ulcer or Acid Reflux Wrap-Up

There are three primary differences in the symptoms of stomach ulcers vs acid reflux. Stomach ulcers typically result in burning stomach pain, whereas reflux typically results in burning chest pain. Ulcers typically feel better after eating whereas acid reflux is worse. Finally, acid reflux symptoms can increase when laying down or bending over whereas stomach ulcer symptoms do not.

At the end of the day, the only way to distinguish between acid reflux or stomach ulcers is by visiting a doctor. After all, both chronic reflux and stomach ulcers should be evaluated by a qualified medical professional as both conditions can progress into more serious medical problems.

If the doctor suspects you have an ulcer, he will likely order an H pylori test. If you test positive for H pylori, treatment protocols will begin. After treatment if you still do not feel better he order an endoscopy to evaluate the condition of the stomach and small intestine.

If you have chronic reflux (also known as GERD), medication may be prescribed or lifestyle changes may be sufficient. Many people may eliminate their acid reflux after making changes like losing weight and avoiding alcohol, coffee, smoking, and irritating foods. On the other hand, if you have an H pylori infection, lifestyle changes alone are not likely to improve your current condition.  The H pylori infection has to be eliminated before long-term healing takes place.

Related posts:

  1. Esophageal Ulcer Symptoms
  2. Burning Stomach Pain
  3. Signs of a Stomach Ulcer
  4. Types of Stomach Ulcers
  5. Are Stomach Ulcers and Gas Related?