Gastritis is a medical condition in which the lining of the stomach (mucosa) becomes inflamed. It may occur as a brief and sudden attack, as an ongoing condition, or as a part of a medical illness.
Gastritis may be either acute or chronic. Sudden severe inflammation of the stomach lining is called acute Gastritis. Inflammation that lasts for a prolonged time is called chronic Gastritis. If left untreated, it may last for years or even lifetime. Erosive Gastritis is a type of Gastritis that often does not cause significant inflammation but can wear away the stomach lining causing bleeding, erosion, or ulcers. Erosive Gastritis may be either acute or chronic.
Many people with Gastritis do not have any symptoms, but some people experience the following symptoms, called dyspepsia:
- Upper abdominal discomfort or pain
Erosive Gastritis may cause ulcers or erosions in the stomach lining that can bleed. Signs of bleeding in the stomach include the following:
- Presence of blood in vomit
- Passing dark stools with the presence of blood
Most forms of chronic, nonspecific Gastritis do not cause symptoms. However, chronic Gastritis is a risk factor for peptic ulcer disease, gastric polyps, and benign and malignant gastric tumours.
Gastritis can be caused by excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress, or the use of certain medications such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs or by a pathogen called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). H. pylori infection is the most common cause of chronic, non-erosive Gastritis. Although not definitively known, the H. pylori bacterium is thought to be primarily transmitted from person-to-person, in areas with poor sanitation, or it may be transmitted through contaminated food or water.
A medical examination and discussion of patient history and lifestyle is necessary for diagnosis. Different tests may be done to identify causes, such as:
- Tests for presence of Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) bacteria
- Stool tests to determine internal bleeding
- Endoscopic tests, called esophagogastroduodenoscopy, to image and determine the health of oesophagus-to-stomach-to-duodenum function
- Taking blood counts (CBC) to determine levels of red to white blood cells and to check if anaemia is a cause
- Early intervention through diagnosis can help a patient recover sooner and prevent deterioration of symptoms with life-threatening complications
Treatment depends on the cause of the Gastritis. Antacids or other medications to decrease or neutralize stomach acid will usually relieve the symptoms and promote healing.
A potential complication of Gastritis is a severe loss of blood.
One may need to consult a doctor if symptoms of Gastritis persist for more than 2 or 3 days or if one vomits blood or have bloody stools.
Intervention through medical diagnosis is the key for the treatment and prevention of Gastritis. Other preventative measures may include:
- Avoiding foods and drinks that cause stomach inflammation
- Moderate alcohol consumption
- Discussing all the medication you take with your doctor to determine what could cause stomach lining erosion or inflammation
- Practicing good hygiene to prevent bacterial or viral infection
- Getting treatment for autoimmune deficiency to raise your immunity
- Protecting the abdominal and stomach area from injury
A diet for Gastritis means eating foods that are mildly flavoured and easy to digest. Include fruits like apples, bananas, pears in your diet. Drink plenty of water as it helps to soothe the stomach.