What is it?
Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and can be caused by several different processes.
Who gets it and what happens?
The stomach has a protective lining of mucus that prevents stomach acid or other things from irritating the stomach tissue. Inflammation can develop if the stomach’s protective lining is damaged or weakened.
Conditions of substances that increase your risk of gastritis include:
- Bacterial infection. Many people infected with Helicobacter pylori develop chronic gastritis.
- Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
- Increased age. Aging causes the stomach lining to begin to thin.
- Alcohol use.
- Significant stress such as major surgery, injury, or severe infection.
- Bile reflux.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can include:
- Upper abdominal pain, often gnawing, burning, or aching that can change with eating
- Feeling very full after eating only a small amount of food
- Decreased appetite
How is it diagnosed?
There are several tests that may be performed. You may be tested for an infection with H. pylori which may be done with a blood, stool, or breath test. An upper endoscopy may be performed to actually look with a camera in your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Small tissue samples can be taken and examined under a microscope. Sometimes x-rays of the upper GI tract will be obtained.
How is Gastritis treated?
Treatment is directed at the cause of the inflammation. Irritating medications may be stopped. If H. pylori infection is diagnosed, antibiotic therapy will be prescribed.
Medications may be used to decrease the levels of acid in the stomach; this can improve your symptoms and create an environment in which the stomach tissue is more likely to heal. Medications include those that reduce the production of stomach acid (proton pump inhibitors or histamine-2 blockers), and/or neutralize the acid already present in the stomach (antacids).
What can I do?
- Stop smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid spicy, acidic, fried, or fatty foods
- Avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages
- Avoid NSAID’s (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen and Celebrex) if possible.
- Eat smaller more frequent meals
- Manage your stress levels, as stress can make the inflammation worse.