Last updated date: 28-Aug-2023
Originally Written in English
Gastritis refers to the inflammation of the stomach's protective lining. It’s categorized as either acute or chronic gastritis. Acute gastritis is characterized by a sudden onset of intense inflammation. If left untreated, chronic gastritis causes long-term inflammation that could persist for years.
The mucosa is a mucus-based protective lining that lines the inside of your stomach. This lining shields your stomach against the powerful stomach acid that aids digestion. The mucosa gets inflamed if something hurts or weakens the protective coating, resulting in gastritis. The most common source of gastritis is a form of bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).
Types of Gastritis
The two main types of gastritis include;
Erosive gastritis: A condition characterized by both inflammation and erosion or wearing away of your stomach lining. It can also be referred to as reactive gastritis.
Non-erosive: This is associated with stomach lining inflammation but no erosion or damage of the stomach lining.
Signs and Symptoms of Gastritis
Usually, gastritis does not cause any evident signs or symptoms. The general symptoms that could indicate gastritis include;
- A fullness feeling in the upper abdomen, especially after eating
You might experience other different signs and symptoms if you have erosive gastritis. They include;
- Black and tarry stool
- Throwing up blood or what seems like the coffee grounds
When to Consult a Physician
Almost everybody has experienced indigestion and stomach pain at some point in their lives. Indigestion is usually just temporary and does not need medical attention. In case you have had signs and symptoms of gastritis for a week or even longer, see your doctor.
If you have stomach pain after you take prescription or over-the-counter medications, particularly aspirin or some pain killers, inform your doctor. If you vomit blood, notice blood in your stools, or black stools, consult the doctor immediately to figure out what's wrong.
Causes of Gastritis
Gastritis is caused by a weakness in the stomach lining, which makes digestive juices harm and inflames it. Gastritis is more likely if your stomach lining is weak or damaged.
Gastritis can also occur due to a bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract. Helicobacter pylori are the most widespread bacterial infection that triggers it. It is a bacterium that affects the stomach lining. This infection is most commonly transmitted from one person to another, but it can also be spread via infected water or food.
Risk Factors of Gastritis
The following are the additional risk factors that can elevate the chances of developing gastritis;
Frequent use of pain killers: Ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin IB), aspirin, and naproxen (Anaprox, Aleve) are common pain killers that can lead to both acute and chronic gastritis. Frequent use of these pain relievers or using too much of them can cause a decrease in a vital substance that aids in the preservation of the stomach's protective lining.
Excessive alcohol consumption: Alcohol tends to irritate and corrode the lining of your stomach, making it more susceptible to digestive juice. Acute gastritis is more likely to develop if you drink too much alcohol.
Stress: Acute gastritis can occur due to extreme stress caused by major surgical procedures, burns, injury, or serious infections.
Age: The stomach lining gradually thins as a person ages. As a result, older adults have increased chances of having H. pylori infection or other autoimmune conditions, unlike younger individuals. This also means that older adults are at a high risk of developing gastritis.
The body cells striking the stomach cells: This form of gastritis is known as autoimmune gastritis. It happens when the body strikes the cells that form the stomach lining. The protective barrier in your stomach can be eroded as a result of this reaction. People who have other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto's disease, are more likely to develop autoimmune gastritis. Vitamin B-12 deficiency has also been linked to autoimmune gastritis.
Some conditions and illnesses: Gastritis has been linked to HIV/AIDS, bacterial infections, and Crohn's disease, among other health conditions.
If the doctor suspects the disease after physical examination and medical history evaluation, they can order additional tests. The following tests can thus help the doctor pinpoint the actual cause of gastritis;
H. pylori test: The physician can suggest tests to check if you have the H. pylori bacteria. Depending on the condition, you could be subjected to a variety of tests. A blood test, a stool test, or a breath test can be useful in detecting gastritis H. pylori.
Endoscopy: Gastritis endoscopy procedure involves passing down an endoscope, a tiny, flexible tube with a lens via the throat into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. The doctor uses an endoscope to check for any signs of inflammation. If they detect a suspicious region, they can extract a small sample of tissue for examination in the lab (biopsy). They can also use a biopsy to check for H. pylori presence within the lining of the stomach.
Upper gastrointestinal tract x-rays: This sequence of x-rays is sometimes known as upper gastrointestinal series or barium swallow. It creates pictures of the stomach, esophagus, and small intestine, making it easy to identify anomalies. You can swallow a white, metallic liquid (with barium) that covers your digestive system to make the ulcer more apparent.
Gastritis treatment varies based on the underlying cause. Some medications destroy bacteria, while others help with indigestion symptoms. Your doctor may recommend you to take the following;
Antibiotics: The doctor can prescribe a combination of various antibiotics, including amoxicillin (Amoxil, Augmentin), clarithromycin (Biaxin), and metronidazole (Flagyl), to destroy H. pylori in the digestive tract. Ensure that you take the whole antibiotics medication, which is normally for seven to fourteen days.
Acid production reducing medications: Acid blockers, also known as histamine (H-2) blockers, minimize the level of acid generated into the digestive tract. This eases discomfort and promotes healing in people with gastritis. Examples of acid blockers are cimetidine (Tagamet HB), famotidine (Pepcid), and nizatidine (Axid AR), which are available by prescription and over-the-counter.
Acid-blocking and wound-healing medications: Proton pump inhibitors prevent or limit acid production by blocking the activity of the section of the cell that releases it. Omeprazole (Prilosec), rabeprazole (Aciphex), lansoprazole (Prevacid), esomeprazole (Nexium), pantoprazole (Protonix) and dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) are examples of the medications.
Antacids (stomach acid neutralizers): The doctor can prescribe an antacid as part of a gastritis remedy and treatment plan. Antacids help neutralize stomach acid and can give quick pain relief. Depending on the key ingredients, side effects can be diarrhea or constipation.
Complications of Gastritis
Gastritis can result in serious complications if not treated. They include;
Anemia: The bacteria H. pylori can lead to gastritis or even stomach ulcers (sores in the stomach) which can sometimes bleed. This causes a drop in your red blood cell count, hence anemia.
Pernicious anemia: Autoimmune gastritis can impair vitamin B12 absorption. If you fail to receive sufficient B12 to create healthy red blood cells, you risk developing pernicious anemia.
Cancer of the stomach: Gastritis that occurs due to H. pylori and autoimmune disorders can lead to stomach lining growths. Such growths elevate the chances of developing stomach cancer.
Peritonitis: Sometimes, gastritis can aggravate stomach ulcers. Stomach components might spill into the abdomen if an ulcer breaks via the stomach wall. Bacterial translocation, also known as peritonitis, is a serious infection caused by the rupture. It may also cause sepsis, which is an extensive inflammation. Sepsis could be a life-threatening condition.
H. pylori are typically one of the most common sources of gastritis. However, many people are unaware that they have it. These bacteria can spread so easily. Practising hygiene measures, like hand-washing regularly, will reduce the likelihood of infection.
You should also take measures to reduce heartburn and indigestion, which are associated with gastritis. Among the preventive steps are;
- Staying away from foods that are salty, spicy, fried, and acidic.
- Reducing caffeine intake
- Consume smaller amounts of food during the day
- Stress management.
- Avoid taking NSAIDs
- Reducing consumption of alcohol
- After a meal, do not lie down for at least two to three hours.
The majority of cases of gastritis react rapidly to treatment. Medication helps ease gastritis in most people. Your doctor will prescribe the best treatment for you depending on the cause of your gastritis. Antibiotics help clear bacterial infections, while antacids suppress stomach acid. Changes such as reducing alcohol intake and treating pain without the use of NSAIDs are also essential.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining caused by an infection with the bacteria H. pylori. It’s typically a widespread disorder that is usually treatable. However, if left untreated, it could result in various complications, including vitamin deficiencies and stomach ulcers.
It might come as a surprise to hear that your indigestion is caused by gastritis. Other individuals with gastritis do not show any signs or symptoms at all. Tests will help your doctor figure out what's causing your gastritis. As a result, you'll be able to get the care you need.