There are no fast ways to cure a stomach ulcer, but there are steps you can take to relieve discomfort and encourage healing. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications.

The fastest way to cure a stomach ulcer is to identify and treat the cause. Most stomach ulcers are caused by an infection and will require antibiotics, along with other medications. The sooner you start antibiotics and other treatments, the sooner your ulcer will heal.

You may also benefit from medications that protect your stomach lining and encourage healing. This can include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

Stomach ulcers, also called gastric ulcers, are painful sores usually caused by an infection of H. pylori bacteria or by overusing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

Your symptoms should begin to improve soon after you start treatment. Most stomach ulcers heal within a few months.

The following are some steps you can take to help heal your stomach ulcer faster.

If your stomach ulcer is caused by an H. pylori infection, doctors usually prescribe a combination of two antibiotics, such as:

Be sure to take all the antibiotics exactly as prescribed, even if you’re feeling better. If you stop taking them, bacteria may remain in your stomach and could even become resistant to the antibiotics.

At least 4 weeks after you finish all the antibiotics, a blood, stool, or breath test will show if H. pylori still exists in your stomach. If it does, a doctor may prescribe different antibiotics to fight the infection.

Treatment for stomach ulcers typically includes proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). These medications stop your stomach from producing too much acid, which helps protect your stomach lining.

PPIs may also help prevent ulcers caused by the overuse of NSAIDs.

A doctor may prescribe PPIs, or you can buy them at a local or online retailer.

A few PPIs available without a prescription include:

Histamine receptor blockers, or H2 blockers, are another type of medication that reduces the production of stomach acids and helps heal damaged tissues.

H2 blockers work by binding to histamine receptors in your stomach, which reduces the amount of acid secreted by your stomach lining. Although H2 blockers are not as strong as PPIs, they can still reduce stomach acids by 70% over a 24-hour period.

Like PPIs, H2 blockers are available by prescription or OTC. Those available OTC include:

  • cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB)
  • famotidine (Pepcid, Pepcid AC)
  • nizatidine (Axid)

Unlike PPIs and H2 blockers, which prevent or reduce the production of stomach acids, antacids help neutralize the acid in your stomach.

This can help ease your symptoms but won’t help heal your ulcer. But antacids may relieve uncomfortable symptoms more quickly than PPIs or H2 blockers.

Be sure to talk with a doctor before taking antacids, as they may interfere with the function of some antibiotics. Additionally, the FDA warns that antacids containing aspirin, such as Alka-Seltzer Original and Bromo Seltzer, may cause serious bleeding in some people.

Some antacids that do not contain aspirin include:

  • Alka-Seltzer Gold
  • TUMS
  • Mylanta
  • Rolaids
  • Maalox

If your stomach ulcer is caused by your long-term use of NSAIDs, other types of pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be safer to use.

Continuing to take NSAIDs increases the risk of developing subsequent stomach ulcers. It may also lead to serious complications like internal bleeding.

However, if you must regularly take low dose aspirin to help prevent a heart attack or stroke, a doctor may prescribe a PPI or H2 blocker to help reduce your risk of developing a stomach ulcer.

If your stomach ulcer is caused by H. pylori bacteria, drinking some Pepto-Bismol — aka the “pink stuff” — may help it heal.

Pepto-Bismol contains bismuth subsalicylate, a medication that coats your stomach and helps shield your ulcer from gastric acids.

When bismuth subsalicylate is taken along with antibiotics and PPIs, it may successfully treat up to 90% of H. pylori infections.

Do not drink Pepto-Bismol if your stomach ulcer is caused by NSAIDs, as it contains salicylates that are also found in aspirin.

Probiotics, which are living microorganisms that help balance the bacteria in your digestive tract, can be found in supplements as well as in foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

A 2021 review of research suggests that when probiotics are combined with antibiotic treatment, the probiotics Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Saccharomyces boulardii can successfully kill H. pylori bacteria.

According to the researchers, an additional benefit is that probiotics may help decrease some of the possible side effects of antibiotics, such as diarrhea.

Smoking cigarettes is a major risk factor for stomach ulcers, and it may also prolong the time it takes for an ulcer to heal.

Tobacco contains chemicals that irritate your stomach lining. Smoking cigarettes can reduce blood flow to the mucous in your stomach, which could lead to inflammation and an ulcer.

Learn more about ways to stop smoking.

Drinking alcohol may irritate your stomach and could prevent your ulcer from healing.

Although there is little evidence that excessively drinking alcohol may cause stomach ulcers, alcohol may weaken and inflame your stomach lining. This may lead to gastritis, which could then lead to an ulcer.

Most stomach ulcers take up to 2 months to heal. For the fastest recovery, it’s important to carefully follow your doctor’s treatment plan, which generally includes a course of antibiotics and PPIs.

Making some lifestyle changes may also help relieve your symptoms sooner and lower your risk of getting another stomach ulcer in the future.