Q:

Can an ulcer kill you?

A:

According to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom, or NHS, some complications related to ulcers are considered medical emergencies, but they are rarely life-threatening. Dr. Madeline Vann of Everyday Health states that serious health problems sometimes result from untreated ulcers.

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Everyday Health explains that an ulcer is a tiny, eroded sore. Ulcers occur in various parts of the body, such as the stomach, leg, foot, mouth and colon. Dr. Vann mentions that peptic ulcers are the most common. Furthermore, she states that the symptoms of ulcers include epigastric pain and loss of well-being. Most people with peptic ulcers complain about stomach pain at the middle section of the abdomen. A feeling of poor digestion after eating is also a typical symptom. When left untreated, ulcers sometimes become bigger and cause tears in the stomach or intestines. This condition is called a perforated ulcer.

The NHS points out that complications of stomach ulcers are not common, generally affecting around one in every 50 people with a stomach ulcer. However, stomach ulcers sometimes have serious complications, such as bleeding at the ulcerated area, gastric obstruction that blocks food from moving through the digestive system, and perforations where the stomach lining tears at the site of the ulcer. Some of these complications are considered to be medical emergencies. People above the age of 70 have the highest risk of experiencing fatal complications from a stomach ulcer.

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