If your primary care doctor isn’t available to assess your pain, or your symptoms are getting worse, urgent care can treat symptoms associated with a possible stomach ulcer.

A burning sensation in the middle of the stomach that gets worse when your stomach is empty could mean you have an ulcer. A stomach ulcer is an open sore that develops on the stomach lining.

While you should seek treatment for stomach ulcers, they’re usually not a medical emergency. A primary care doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment for a stomach ulcer. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist called a gastroenterologist for further tests.

But urgent care medical professionals can diagnose and treat a stomach ulcer if your primary care doctor isn’t available and you have more severe — but not life threatening — symptoms. They may ask you to follow up with your primary care doctor regarding your treatment.

Yes, urgent care centers are prepared to evaluate and treat stomach problems like stomach ulcers.

Urgent care centers are clinics that treat illnesses or injuries that aren’t life threatening. They have access to many of the same diagnostic tools and equipment as primary care offices. They offer same-day care and are often available on weekends and evenings when a primary care doctor’s office is usually closed.

To diagnose a stomach ulcer, an urgent care healthcare professional will ask you about your symptoms, medical history, and medications you take. They will then conduct a physical exam.

Most stomach ulcers are caused by an infection with a bacterium called H. pylori or frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or aspirin.

Urgent care staff members may order a breath, stool, or blood test to see whether you have H. pylori. They may also run additional tests to rule out other conditions that could be causing your stomach pain.

Depending on the cause, most ulcers can be treated with prescription medications and diet changes. Urgent care medical professionals can prescribe these medications. You can usually pick them up at a pharmacy on the same day.

If you test positive for H. pylori, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). PPIs block the stomach cells that make acid, giving your ulcer time to heal.

If you test negative for H. pylori, urgent care medical professionals may prescribe just a PPI or another medication to reduce the acid in your stomach and help it heal.

Be sure to take all of your medications as prescribed. Urgent care medical professionals will likely recommend that you follow up with your primary care doctor in a few weeks to make sure the ulcer is healing.

If you don’t already have a primary care doctor, you can use the Healthline FindCare tool to find one near you.

Symptoms of a stomach ulcer, such as abdominal pain and nausea, are similar to the symptoms of other conditions, like food poisoning, appendicitis, gall bladder issues, or inflammation in the intestines. If you’re unsure whether your symptoms are caused by a stomach ulcer, it’s vital to see a doctor.

You can visit urgent care if your symptoms aren’t life threatening and:

  • you don’t have a primary care doctor
  • you can’t get an appointment with your primary care doctor or your doctor’s office is closed

If the pain is sudden, severe and doesn’t subside, go to the emergency room because these symptoms could indicate a medical emergency.

Medical emergency

Go to the nearest emergency room if your stomach pain accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • trouble breathing
  • red or black vomit that resembles coffee grounds
  • blood in your stool, or sticky tar-like stools
  • sudden, sharp pain in your stomach that doesn’t go away
  • severely swollen and tender abdomen
  • persistent nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • inability to keep down fluids
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding

If you’re feeling a dull or burning pain in your stomach that doesn’t worsen over time, you can likely wait 2 days to visit your primary care doctor.

But if the pain intensifies, or you’re having other symptoms, try to get an appointment right away. If your primary care doctor isn’t available, urgent care can usually get you an appointment the same day. It’s important not to wait too long. Stomach ulcers worsen if not treated.

Stomach ulcers are usually not serious, but they can lead to complications if not treated. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about stomach ulcers.

Should I go to the ER if I have a stomach ulcer?

Stomach ulcers can be medical emergencies if you develop complications. Ulcers can bleed or break through (perforate) the stomach wall. They can also block food from going through the intestines.

A trip to the ER is warranted if you have severe abdominal pain, your stools contain blood, or you’re vomiting a substance that resembles coffee grounds.

How do you get tested for stomach ulcers?

Many stomach ulcers are caused by an infection with a bacteria called H. pylori. Along with an evaluation of your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will test for a stomach ulcer with a blood, stool, or breath test for H. pylori.

Your doctor might want also order an endoscopy. During an endoscopy, a thin tube with a tiny camera is passed down your throat and into your stomach so your doctor can see whether there’s an ulcer.

Make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you have symptoms of a stomach ulcer, even if your symptoms are mild.

An urgent care clinic will see you if your primary care doctor is not available and be able to evaluate and treat your symptoms. You’ll likely have you follow up with the primary care doctor after your medications are finished to ensure the ulcer is resolved.