Most stomach ulcers heal usually within 4–8 weeks, but larger ulcers may take up to 12 weeks. The cause and size of the ulcer will also influence recovery time.

Stomach ulcers are sores in the stomach lining or small intestines. Doctors treat stomach ulcers with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications.

The recovery time may vary depending on the cause of the ulcer, the specific treatment, and other complications that may arise.

Read on to learn more about the average recovery time of a stomach ulcer and factors that may affect recovery.

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Most stomach ulcers will heal within 1–2 months of receiving treatment. However, some may take several months.

Research published in 2015 has shown that larger ulcers need more time to heal. Doctors define larger ulcers as more than 5 millimeters in size, and they may take up to 8–12 weeks to fully heal with treatment.

Although most stomach ulcers heal with treatment, there may be factors that delay recovery. Anecdotal evidence suggests the following may affect recovery:

Complications that may arise which further delay recovery time include:

  • if the ulcer bleeds, which is more common in older people
  • perforation, which is when the stomach lining at the site of the ulcer splits open
  • gastric obstruction, which is when the ulcer blocks the movement of food through the digestive system

While it may be difficult for a person to know if a stomach ulcer is healing, anecdotal evidence suggests reduced pain may be a good indication they are recovering. However, not all stomach ulcers are painful.

Other symptoms may subside during healing such as:

  • improved digestion
  • less feelings of nausea
  • no heartburn

Medical diagnosis and monitoring

If a person wants to determine if their stomach ulcer is healing or fully healed, they can consult a doctor for advice.

To find out if medications worked and the ulcer has healed, medical professionals may recommend testing for H. pylori at least 4 weeks after antibiotic treatment.

Similarly, in order to confirm ulcer healing, doctors may recommend an upper gastrointestinal tract endoscopy. This allows them to look at the area, and if necessary, take a biopsy, or tissue sample for testing.

Experts recommend taking the correct medication doses exactly as prescribed to help promote the healing process. If a person stops taking their medication early, it may prevent the ulcer from healing.

Doctors also recommend certain lifestyle changes, for example, smoking may slow healing. Similarly, alcohol misuse may further impede the healing process.

People should attend all routine appointments and follow all medical guidelines and advice to help with recovery.

Treatment for stomach ulcers depends on the cause. Doctors treat the underlying causes of stomach ulcers with specific medications. This helps the ulcers heal and prevents them from coming back.

General medical guidelines for stomach ulcers include:

Treating a H. pylori infection

Doctors treat H. pylori infection with several medications, including:

Learn more about the medication for stomach ulcers.

Stopping or changing NSAIDs

If NSAIDs have caused the stomach ulcer, doctors may recommend modifications, such as:

  • changing the NSAID
  • reducing the dose
  • stopping NSAIDs altogether
  • alternative pain medications such as PPIs

Changing lifestyle habits

While medication can treat an ulcer, changing certain lifestyle habits may also help. For example, a person can avoid certain foods, such as acidic foods, that may irritate an ulcer.

Read more about recommended food for people with stomach ulcers.

Taking other medications

H2 blockers are an alternative medication that reduces stomach acid production. An example is famotidine.

Doctors may also recommend taking antacid medication to neutralize stomach acid and help relieve symptoms of a stomach ulcer.

A person should contact a doctor if they have persistent symptoms of a stomach ulcer before, during, or after treatment. They should seek immediate medical attention if they develop signs of a serious complication, including:

Stomach ulcers tend to heal within 1–2 months of a person starting treatment.

However, some people may find the ulcer takes longer to heal. This may result from biological factors such as the size of the ulcer or causes, or it may relate to possible complications that have developed, such as bleeding or perforation.

In order to speed up the healing process, people should take all doses of medications doctors prescribe, and avoid smoking and drinking. General treatment guidelines may include antibiotics, PPIs, H2-blockers, or antacids.

If a person experiences blood in vomit or sticky stool they should consult a doctor immediately as these may be possible complications of stomach ulcers.