What headache drugs are safe for bleeding ulcers and peptic ulcer disease?

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Howard E. Lewine, MD
Hospitalist
Before we address what you can take for pain and what you should avoid, first consider the two main causes of peptic ulcer disease.

Peptic ulcer disease is most often caused by a bacterial infection called Helicobacter pylori. These bacteria sit below the surface of the stomach and first portion of the intestine. If you have not been tested for this infection, this should be your first step. Treating this infection with antibiotics and acid blockers will decrease your risk of bleeding ulcers in the future.

The second most common cause of peptic ulcer disease is from the use of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (called NSAIDs). Two NSAIDs available over the counter (meaning they don't require a prescription from a doctor) are:
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, generics)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, generics)
Pain relievers that contain acetaminophen (Tylenol, generics) are the safest for you. Avoid headache medicine that contains aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. If you are uncertain about any particular product, ask the pharmacist before you buy it.
Harvard Medical School The Sensitive Gut

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Harvard Medical School The Sensitive Gut

DO YOU EXPERIENCE FREQUENT STOMACHACHES OR EXCESSIVE GAS AFTER EATING? DOES EATING A SIMPLE MEAL LEAVE YOU WITH A FEELING OF HEARTBURN? DO CONSTIPATION AND DIARRHEA PLAGUE YOUR LIFE? If you answered...

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Ulcers

Ulcers

Ulcers are caused by too much acid in the stomach, and the reasons for excess acid is usually a bacterial infection or prolonged use of NSAID painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Smoking can also be a culprit. Ulcers ...

cause pain, most often when the stomach is empty or at night. The pain can in the chest, as low as the navel, or as high as the breastbone. Modern treatment is with medicine to kill bacterial infection and to block, suppress, or neutralize excess acid.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.