What is Gastritis?
Gastritis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It is of two types: acute gastritis (sudden, short-lived inflammation) and chronic (long-term inflammation of gradual onset that may last years if not treated).
Causes of Gastritis
Gastritis may result from a thin or damaged gastric lining exposing the underlying tissues to the acid in the stomach. This may be caused by:
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- Excessive alcohol use
- Excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Aging due to thinning of the stomach lining
- Crohn’s Disease
- Bile reflux
- Food allergies
- Physical stress
- Autoimmune disorder
Symptoms of Gastritis
Symptoms of gastritis include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- A bloody or black tarry stool
- Vomiting blood
Diagnosis of Gastritis
Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and perform a physical examination. The following diagnostic tests may be ordered:
- Endoscopy: This procedure involves the use of a long flexible tube (endoscope) with a camera at one end that is inserted through the mouth into the stomach. This will help your doctor to visualize the inner lining of your stomach to look for ulcers and also to obtain a biopsy sample.
- Abdominal CT scan: This test uses multiple x-rays to produce clear cross-sectional images of the internal hard and soft tissues of your stomach.
- Upper GI Series: This study uses barium-based contrast material to visualize the structures of the stomach on x-rays.
- Blood test: This test is performed to detect antibody titers against H. pylori.
- Urea breath test: A breath test is performed to detect the presence of H. pylori. You will be asked to drink a solution containing urea which is broken down by H. pylori to release carbon dioxide. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in exhaled breath indicates an H. pylori infection
- Stool test: This test is done to detect the presence of blood or H. pylori in the stool.
Treatment for Gastritis
Treatment for gastritis is based on the severity of the condition. Some of the common therapeutic measures include:
- Medications: Your doctor will recommend antibiotics to treat an H. pylori infection.
- Proton pump inhibitors: This reduces the production of stomach acid.
- H2 receptor antagonists: This reduces the secretion of acid into the stomach.
- Antacids: This neutralizes stomach acid.
- Lifestyle modifications:
- Your doctor may instruct you to drink more fluids
- Avoid consumption of alcohol and spicy foods
- Try eating smaller meals throughout the day
- Avoid eating late at night
- Reduce the intake of soft drinks and caffeine
- Control stress and anxiety
Prevention of Gastritis
Preventive measures for gastritis include:
- Eat smaller more frequent meals
- Avoid foods that are spicy, fried, or have high acid content
- Avoid sleeping immediately after eating
- Consume hygienic, well-cooked foods
- Wash your hands before eating
- Avoid exercising with a full stomach
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid prolonged use of NSAIDs