Gastritis is a condition that develops inflammation in the stomach lining, which leads to abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. Most people do not experience the symptoms of gastritis. It can appear suddenly (acute) or constantly (chronic). If gastritis does not receive treatment, it can result in a large amount of blood loss and may increase your chance of producing stomach cancer. Read the article throughout to uncover the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment of gastritis.
What is gastritis?
Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of your stomach. Your stomach contains a protective lining of mucus known as mucosa. The lining helps to prevent your stomach from stomach acid that digests food. Gastritis develops when this protective lining becomes damaged, which results in inflamed mucosa. Helicobacter pylori is one of the types of bacteria that causes gastritis.
Acute gastritis may develop immediate and extreme inflammation. Chronic gastritis shows up gradually as it involves long-term inflammation that can present in your body for several years if you do not receive treatment. Gastritis can result in ulcers and develop a high risk of stomach cancer in a few cases. In most people, gastritis is not a big concern, and recovers quickly from proper treatment.
Types of gastritis
Two types of gastritis are found namely:
Erosive (reactive): This type of gastritis leads to inflammation and erosion (wear off) of your stomach lining. This is also called reactive gastritis. It develops due to these conditions, including smoking, alcohol, NSAIDs, and viral or bacterial infections.
Non-erosive: This type of gastritis develops inflammation in the stomach lining without erosion.
Symptoms of gastritis
Symptoms of gastritis may vary from one person to another. Most people may not have symptoms at all. The common signs and severe symptoms of gastritis include
- Pain or burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach during meals or at night
- Upper abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling extra fullness during or after eating
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight without trying
- Black & tarry stools
Symptoms of gastritis may relate to indigestion symptoms. Indigestion (dyspepsia) is stomach pain that develops due to difficulty digesting food. You may experience burning in between your lower ribs.
Causes of gastritis
Gastritis develops when certain things damage your stomach lining (mucosa). Different substances can activate or trigger the condition, such as
- Alcohol use disorder: Intake of large amounts of alcohol for a long can create irritation and erosion in your stomach lining.
- Bacterial infection: H.pylori bacteria are the leading cause of chronic (long-term) gastritis and stomach ulcers. The H.pylori bacteria decompose the protective stomach lining, which leads to inflammation.
- Autoimmune disease: In a few people, the immune system damages healthy cells in the stomach lining.
- Bile reflux: Your liver produces bile to help in digestion. The bile moves from the liver to the small intestine. A reverse bile flow (reflux) develops from the bile tract (a system that connects the liver and gallbladder) into the stomach.
- Medicines: Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids to relieve pain may disturb or irritate the stomach lining.
- Physical stress: An extreme, unexpected injury or illness may result in gastritis. In most cases, gastritis produces after a trauma or incident, which does not include the stomach. Brain injuries and severe burns are two leading causes of gastritis.
When to consult a doctor?
Often every person experiences indigestion and stomach irritation. The majority of the time, indigestion is developed for a short period and does not need a medical consultation. You may need to speak with a healthcare provider if the signs and symptoms of gastritis are present in your body for at least a week or above.
You should take an instant online medical consultation if you:
- Experience extreme pain
- Have vomiting that does not allow you to get in food
- Have a feeling of dizziness or light-headed
- Have blood in the vomiting
- See blood in your stools or black stools
By consulting a doctor, you will get the reasons for developing these severe symptoms of gastritis.
What are the tests used to diagnose gastritis?
A healthcare provider may ask about your symptoms and medical and family history. You may require any or more of the following tests include:
Breath test: In the H.pylori breath test, you will ask to swallow a capsule or liquid possessing urea. After that, you will take it out into a bag similar to a balloon. H.pylori bacteria convert urea into carbon dioxide. The breath test will indicate the high amount of carbon dioxide if you experience H.pylori bacteria.
Blood test: This test helps to see the antibodies that develop in response to H.pylori bacteria. Antibodies are proteins that help to fight against infection, bacteria, or viruses.
Fecal occult blood test (stool test): This test allows you to detect the H.pylori bacteria in your stool (poop).
Upper endoscopy: A healthcare provider utilizes an endoscope, a long, thin tube to observe your stomach. The tube is attached to a camera. A doctor inserts the endoscope via the esophagus, which creates a connection between the mouth and stomach. This exam helps your provider to observe the stomach lining. You may also need to provide a tissue sample, also known as a biopsy, which collects from the stomach lining to check for infection.
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) exam: In this exam, you will ask to take in a substance like chalk called barium. It includes liquid that coats your stomach lining and gives more detailed X-ray images.
These are the factors that may lead to developing a high risk of gastritis include:
- Bacterial infection: Even though the infection with Helicobacter pylori is among the leading human infections in the world, very few people develop gastritis or upper gastrointestinal problems with this infection. Doctors suggest the bacteria may originate from family history, smoking, and diet.
- Older age: High risk of gastritis is found in the older age group people. It is due to the reduction of the stomach lining with increasing age, and older adults are more prone to develop H.pylori infection or autoimmune diseases than young ones.
- Frequent or daily use of painkillers: The use of pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, may lead to acute gastritis and chronic gastritis. Regular intake of NSAIDs may decrease a particular substance that keeps the protective lining of your stomach.
- Alcohol use disorder: Taking excess alcohol can irritate and erode the stomach lining. It makes your stomach weaker and exposed to being attacked by digestive juices.
- Stress: Stress that may develop due to injury, burns, or infections may lead to acute gastritis.
- Cancer treatment: Treatment with radiation or chemotherapy may lead to a high risk of gastritis.
- Autoimmune gastritis: A condition in which your immune system attacks the healthy cells that build up your stomach lining is known as autoimmune gastritis. Autoimmune gastritis is commonly present in every age group with other diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease and type 1 diabetes. Autoimmune gastritis may also be associated with low vitamin B12 in the blood.
- Other diseases: You may have a chance of developing gastritis due to these conditions, including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, HIV/AIDs, and sarcoidosis.
Complications of gastritis
Gastritis may cause several complications or problems if left untreated that include:
- Anemia: H.pylori bacteria may lead to gastritis or stomach ulcers that urge to bleed. The blood loss creates a reduction in the number of red blood cells. The condition of low red blood cells in the body is known as anemia.
- Peritonitis: Gastritis results in worsening stomach ulcers. The ulcers, which decompose through the stomach wall can allow the stomach substances into your abdomen. It can result in the spreading of bacteria and the development of a severe infection called peritonitis or bacterial translocation. It can also create inflammation throughout your body, also known as sepsis.
- Stomach cancer: Gastritis developed by H.pylori and autoimmune disorders may result in an abnormal growth in your stomach lining. It can lead to a high risk of developing stomach cancer.
- Pernicious anemia: Your body requires enough vitamin B12 to develop red blood cells. Autoimmune gastritis is associated with a deficiency of vitamin B12. You may develop pernicious anemia if you do not have recommended B12 levels in your blood.
The treatment for gastritis may vary depending on the cause of the medical condition. Following are the gastritis treatment that a healthcare provider may recommend:
- Antacids: You can use antacids, such as calcium carbonate, to relieve instant gastritis pain. Antacids help to balance or neutralize the acid present in your stomach. They help to reduce inflammation.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics can help to eliminate bacterial infections. You may require one or more than one form of antibiotics with the dose recommended by your provider.
- Proton pump inhibitors: Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole and esomeprazole help to block cells that develop stomach acid. This results in less production of stomach acid. Proton pump inhibitors also help to treat stomach ulcers.
- Acid-reducing medications: You may need to take acid-reducing medications such as famotidine (Pepcid) that decrease the levels of acid developed in your stomach. Acid-reducing medicines are one of the ways to relieve gastritis pain and recover the damage to your stomach lining.
- Histamine (H2) blockers: They include cimetidine, ranitidine, and other related medications that help lower the amount of stomach acid.
- Vitamin B12: If you experience gastritis due to pernicious anemia, you will take vitamin B12 supplements to meet your B12 levels in the blood.
You can consult a professional doctor before taking any medicines or planning treatment.
How to prevent gastritis?
H.pylori is one of the leading causes of gastritis. However, most people do not recognize that they are infected by this bacteria, which can spread easily. Decrease your chance of getting an infection by applying proper hygiene steps such as washing and maintaining distance from the person that already has H.pylori.
Your provider may recommend specific steps to manage indigestion and heartburn because these have been linked with gastritis. The following are the gastritis prevention steps that include:
- Divide your meal for a day and take smaller portions while eating.
- Decreasing the use of alcohol
- Keep away from fatty, fried, acidic, or spicy foods
- Reducing the amount of caffeine intake
- Avoiding NSAIDs
- Controlling and managing stress or depression
- Avoiding lying on a bed for at least two to three hours after eating
Gastritis is most common in people due to several causes, which can be manageable and treatable. A healthcare provider may use breath, blood, or stool tests to detect causes of gastritis. These tests help your provider recommend a treatment plan depending on the cause of gastritis. If you see the symptoms of gastritis, you should take an online medical consultation from a provider. With preventive measures, you can reduce your risk of developing gastritis.