Ulcers are sores in the stomach caused by excess stomach acid. Gastric ulcers, which occur in the upper part of the stomach (where it curves toward the esophagus), are caused by an assault on the lining of the stomach by the stomach’s natural acid production. Use of aspirin and NSAID drugs, such as ibuprofen and the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are the most common causes of ulcers. In fact, according to the Merck Manuel Home Edition, 75 percent of people with stomach ulcers test positive for the H. pylori infection.
Vomiting is one of the ways the body rids itself of toxins. If the body senses something bad is going on in the stomach, or if you’ve ingested something that appears toxic, a warning signal is sent to the brain to immediately eject the toxin from the stomach. Muscles of the stomach contract quickly and purposefully to expel the contents of the stomach up the esophagus and through the mouth and nose. It’s important to note that vomiting is not only caused when the body has ingested a toxin, but also when it perceives a toxin has been ingested. This is why vomiting is common in people with gastric ulcers.
Gastric Ulcer Vomiting Description
It’s not the actual ulcer that causes the vomiting during a gastric ulcer episode. According to the Merck Manual, vomiting is triggered because the ulcer—which is an open sore—causes swelling of the stomach. The swelling will occasionally cut off the content of the stomach's access to the small intestine, causing it to sit in the stomach longer than necessary. That triggers the warning signal to the brain that something in the stomach may be toxic, and the stomach reacts accordingly. If vomiting continues, the ulcer must be treated immediately, as a severe blockage to the small intestine will usually require surgery to fix.
If you vomit blood, which sometimes looks like coffee grounds, seek immediate medical attention, as this is a sign that your ulcer may be bleeding.