Signs & Symptoms of a Gastric Ulcer in Teens

a close up of a girls midriff
Notice the signs of an ulcer in your teenager. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Gastric ulcers are peptic ulcers that develop in the stomach. While they are more common in adults, gastric ulcers can also develop in teenagers as the amount of stomach acid is increased, or the amount of protective mucous in the stomach is decreased. These stomach changes can occur from bacteria, such as Helicobacter pylori, or from the overuse of pain killers. Cigarette smoke, alcohol and stress can also contribute to the development of gastric ulcers. In order to best treat your teen, learn the warning signs of a possible ulcer.

Pain and Burning

When a teen complains of pain or burning emanating between his naval and breastbone, this can be a sign of a gastric ulcer. Pain and burning develop either from the open ulcer, or from irritation as the ulcer comes into contact with stomach acid.

Appetite and Weight Loss

A change in your teen's appetite may also be a sign of a developing ulcer. The irritation of an ulcer can cause problems with the digestive system, making digestion uncomfortable or reducing your teen's appetite. Another sign that can be associated with this symptom is if you notice your teen unexpectedly starts to lose weight.

Stool Changes

If your teen comes to you with worries about a change in her stool, this may also be a sign of a gastric ulcer or another potentially serious stomach problem. A gastric ulcer can cause your teen's stool to take on a dark black color, or look like it's covered in tar. Dark blood may also come out in the stool as bleeding from the ulcer makes its way through the digestive tract and into the feces.

Digestive Distress

A gastric ulcer may also cause digestive distress to your teen. For example, the irritation of the ulcer may cause vomiting, sometimes with blood in the vomit. Vomited blood may be dark red, but may also be black. The ulcer may also cause varying levels of nausea, with your teen feeling like he is going to vomit, even if nothing comes up.

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