Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention

Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention


What is gastritis?


Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention
Gastritis

Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Unfortunately, the term "gastritis" has been misused to include many different upper abdominal problems, but true gastritis refers to the stomach lining (gastric mucosa) that is inflamed. All or part of the gastric mucosa may be involved. Gastritis may be classified as acute or chronic. Acute gastritis maybe characterized as erosive (damaged areas where mucosal cells are disrupted or missing) and nonerosive. Chronic gastritis is determined by histopathology (appearance of the gastric mucosa). This article will focus on true gastritis. Gastritis has many causes, but most causes result in similar symptoms. This has leads to some confusion and is the reason why many health care professionals now consider the term "gastritis" as a non-specific description of a cluster of symptoms.

Read more: GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease): Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What causes gastritis?


A major cause of both acute and chronic gastritis is infection of the stomach mucosa by a bacterial species named Helicobacter pylori. Usually, this bacterium first infects the stomach antrum (stomach mucosa without acid-producing cells) acutely and may progress to infect most or all of the stomach's mucosa over time (chronic gastritis) and remain there for years. This infection generates an initial strong inflammatory response and eventually, a long-term chronic inflammation with intestinal cell changes may develop. Another major cause of acute and chronic gastritis is the use (and overuse) of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

However, there are many other causes of gastritis; the following is a list of common causes of both acute and chronic gastritis; chronic gastritis may occur with repeated or continual presence of most of these causes:

Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention
Gastritis


  • Bacterial, viral and parasitic infections
  • Certain drugs (cocaine)
  • Alcohol
  • Bile reflux
  • Fungal infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Stress reaction
  • Radiation
  • Certain food poisonings (infectious and chemical)
  • Trauma

In general, infectious agents, especially Helicobacter pylori, and NSAIDs are responsible for the majority of gastritis patients.

What Are the Symptoms of Gastritis?


Symptoms of gastritis vary among individuals, and in many people there are no symptoms. However, the most common symptoms include:

Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention


  • Nausea or recurrent upset stomach
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach between meals or at night
  • Hiccups
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material
  • Black, tarry stools


How Is Gastritis Diagnosed?


To diagnose gastritis, your doctor will review your personal and family medical history, perform a thorough physical evaluation, and may recommend any of the following tests.

Upper endoscopy


An endoscope, a thin tube containing a tiny camera, is inserted through your mouth and down into your stomach to look at the stomach lining. The doctor will check for inflammation and may perform a biopsy, a procedure in which a tiny sample of tissue is removed and then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Blood tests


The doctor may perform various blood tests such as checking your red blood cell count to determine whether you have anemia, which means that you do not have enough red blood cells. He or she can also screen for H. pylori infection and pernicious anemia with blood tests.

Fecal occult blood test (stool test)


This test checks for the presence of blood in your stool, a possible sign of gastritis.

What Is the Treatment for Gastritis?


Treatment for gastritis usually involves:

Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment And Prevention

  • Taking antacids and other drugs to reduce stomach acid, which causes further irritation to inflamed areas.
  • Avoiding hot and spicy foods.
  • You will also need to avoid any foods, beverages, or medicines that cause symptoms. If smoking is the problem, you should quit.
  • For gastritis caused by H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe a regimen of several antibiotics plus an acid blocking drug (used for heartburn).
  • If the gastritis is caused by pernicious anemia, B12 vitamin shots will be given.
  • Eliminating irritating foods from your diet such as lactose from dairy or gluten from wheat.
Once the underlying problem disappears, the gastritis usually does, too. 

You should talk to your doctor before stopping any medicine or starting any gastritis treatment on your own.

How is gastritis prevented?


If the underlying cause of gastritis is preventable, then gastritis can be prevented. For example, if alcohol consumption or NSAIDs cause an individual's gastritis, prevention is accomplished by stopping the consumption of these agents. Avoidance may be preventive in situations where chemicals, radiation or some toxin ingestion could occur. It may be more difficult to prevent some infectious causes, but proper hygiene, hand washing, and eating and drinking only adequately cleaned or treated foods and fluids are healthy ways to decrease your risk of getting gastritis from infectious agents.