How are ulcers diagnosed?

Your doctor may be able to make the diagnosis just by talking with you about your symptoms. However, to confirm the diagnosis, one of several tests should be taken. First, your doctor may ask you to take an acid-blocking medication for a short period of time to see if your symptoms improve.

If needed, your doctor may recommend a procedure called an upper endoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor inserts a small, lighted tube (endoscope) through the throat and into the stomach to look for abnormalities. This procedure is usually done if you are having severe ulcer symptoms.

Often, doctors will treat without confirming the diagnosis with endoscopy. If the cause is not likely to be from taking NSAIDs, then it is very likely to be from H. pylori. Most doctors will now test for H. pylori and will treat specifically for that, in addition to giving medications to reduce the symptoms.

H. pylori can be discovered either directly by taking a sample during an upper endoscopy, or indirectly, with a blood test or a breath test.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/13/2016.


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