Peptic Ulcer in Children- Ultimate Guide for Parents


Children love trying new things. To them everything is exciting. They don’t care what it is and how it is but they will do it. This concept also applies on food. We all know they find, most of time unhealthy food delicious to eat. Why we called it unhealthy, because it is causing discomfort and affecting the health of the child. One such unhealthy discomfort we would talk is Peptic Ulcers.

Peptic ulcers commonly called as Stomach ulcers, which are less common in children as compared to adults but seen frequently than one could imagine. Peptic ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), sometimes as a  secondary complication of any serious disease like Cancer.

peptic ulcer

Peptic Ulcer in Children: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Peptic Ulcer in Children?

An ulcer is basically an open sore or lesion found on skin or mucous membranes. Peptic ulcer is formed in the lining of stomach whereas duodenal ulcer is found in duodenum and is more common to occur.

Causes of Stomach Ulcers

In considering today’s era , stress , diet and stomach acid causes ulcer formation. Most basic cause is due to infection by helicobacter pylori.

Following are the main causes of stomach ulcers :

  1. H. pylori :  This bacteria perforates the protective mucus of the child which makes the stomach layer more prone to pepsin and acid secretions.
  2. Stress : Emotional stress are no longer responsible to cause ulcers but it is believed that stress is responsible to increase the ulcer pain. Considering the physical stress chances of ulcer formation increases especially in the stomach. For example, people with injuries like burns or had major surgery are often on anti peptic ulcer medication to avoid peptic ulcer.
  3. Nonsteroidal anti – Inflammatory medicines :  Major side effects of these drugs like aspirin ibuprofen is peptic ulcer. Mainly these drugs are used for lowering body temperature during fever i.e. antipyretics , for headaches and pain.
  4. Acid and Pepsin : Though acid and pepsin are secretion of stomach itself but stomach cannot defend against these two strong fluids. This may also cause formation of ulcers.

Risk Factors for Peptic Ulcers

The biggest risk factor is H. pylori infection. Children susceptible to H. pylori infection include :

  • Children living in overcrowded areas.
  • Can be hereditary
  • Sharing bed.
  • It has been observed African- American species of humans are at higher risk of developing ulcers.

Symptoms of Peptic Ulcers in a Child

Usually ulcers do not show any symptoms.

The most common complaint of the child is feeling of sensation of burning pain in stomach. This is often felt in between breastbone and umbilicus (belly button ).  The child often feels this pain during in between meals and in the early morning . This pain usually lasts for a few minutes to a few hours.

Rare symptoms of ulcers are :

  1. Anemia
  2. Poor appetite
  3. Weight Loss
  4. Lethargy
  5. Bloating
  6. Belching

Diagnosis of Peptic Ulcers

Treatment depends upon the symptoms,  age and general health of the child and also on the severity of the condition.

The cause is also main implication for the treatment as different causes would require different treatment. For example treatment in peptic ulcer caused by H. pylori will be definitely different from the treatment given in Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory induced peptic ulcers.


Complete history is important for the proper diagnosis. Certain tests are being performed to diagnose.

Upper GI (Gastrointestinal ) series

This test allow to examine the upper digestive system of the child . The child is requested to swallow Barium during the test. This metallic liquid will coat the organs from inside. This helps in observing abnormality in the organ on the X-ray .    


This test is performed by inserting a small, flexible tube to see inside of the digestive tract. The tube contains a lens and camera at the end of it. Tissue samples are taken from the digestive tract of the child.

Blood, stool , breath and stomach tests

When suspected, infection of H. pylori following test are to be performed.

Treatment given to children in case of peptic ulcer

Treatment of any disease depends upon the severity of disease as well as on age , symptoms and general health of the child.

Lifestyle changes

It is advised parents to make the child avoid spicy , fatty or acidic foods . But these days this dietary habit is believed to not help with ulcers. But if , observed certain food is worsening the ulcer it is recommended to visit a doctor and tell about it to the doctor.


Some teenagers smoke and parents have no knowledge about it. Smoking causes the healing process to slow down and even cause come back of ulcer.


In case of H. pylori , child requires medication. Drugs included for treatment of H. pylori are as follows :

-Antibiotics : To kill bacteria

-H2 Blockers : For reduction of amount of acid in the stomach by blocking histamine.

-Proton pump inhibitor : Block stomach acid production by inhibiting acid pump.

-Mucosal protective agents : Provide protection to the mucous lining of the stomach from the damage caused by the acid.



Usually medicine are enough to cure the peptic ulcers but in rare cases surgery is required if the child is not responding to medicines .


It is common for children to get peptic ulcers . It is therefore ,  advised for parents to take proper hygienic and nutritional care of the child.