What is gastritis?
Gastritis is an inflammation and erosion of the stomach lining, due to various causes such as bacterial infection (which is caused by the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori), drinking too much alcohol, regular consumption of certain painkillers, regularly eating very spicy food, etc.
Gastritis is usually mild and resolves without any treatment and goes away by itself. Some dietary and lifestyle changes with OTC antacid medicines are usually all that is required.
However, severe or recurring gastritis may be a problem and requires urgent treatment. If it left untreated for a long time it can lead to stomach ulcer and anemia.
How does gastritis occur?
The food we eat passes down to the esophagus into the stomach. The stomach creates acid (Gastric juice) which is necessary to digest the food and to kill any germs.
The food mixes with the acid in the stomach and then moves into the initial part of the small intestine. As the acid is corrosive in nature, some of the cells in the inner lining of the stomach produces mucus as a natural barrier to protect the lining of the stomach and the very first part of the small intestine.
Under normal conditions, there is a perfect balance between the amount of acid produced and the amount of mucus produced in order to protect the stomach lining.
Gastritis occurs if there is an imbalance between the acid, and the mucous produced, and the acid manages to erode and damage the stomach lining.
The imbalance can occur due to many reasons including, bacterial infection especially caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, overindulging in alcohol and smoking, eating very spicy food and so on.
Sometimes, gastritis may also be caused due to an autoimmune reaction, i.e. when the body’s immune system instead of protecting the body, mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells and tissues, in this case, the stomach lining, and cause gastritis.
This is most common among individuals who have an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s thyroid disease or diabetes type 1.
Types of Gastritis
Depending on the different causes there are various types of gastritis as listed below:
This condition occurs when the stomach lining gets inflamed due to the overuse of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) drugs, alcohol abuse, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, a myocardial infarction, and even stress.
The person who suffers from acute gastritis can complain of indigestion and stomach irritability. In more severe cases tissue death or necrosis of stomach glands may occur.
This condition occurs when stomach lining becomes inflamed repeatedly or for prolong time. It can erode away the stomach lining. The symptoms of this type of gastritis include upper abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, loss of appetite, and indigestion.
There are also subtypes of chronic gastritis:
Type A: It is caused by dying stomach cells and can increase the risk of cancer, anemia, and vitamin deficiencies.
Type B: It may be caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, and is the most common among the three.
Chronic type C: It happens by chemical irritants such as anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol, or bile and can lead to stomach lining erosion.
It is one type of chronic gastritis. In this condition death of the stomach glands occur, which stops the production of essential chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, and pepsin, which help in food digestion. This condition may lead to Vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies.
It can be caused due to a virus, bacteria, stomach injury, or erosive medications. People suffering from this condition complain of indigestion and burning sensation, bloating, flatulence, and changes in stool color. Antral gastritis occurs in the lower portion of the stomach and is very common among older adults.
It is a less common form of gastritis, this condition leads to the formation of ulcers and bleeding in the lining of the stomach instead of inflammation.
This type occurs due to the consumption of certain drugs like steroids, or due to medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, infections from bacteria like E.coli, and food allergies. To diagnose this form of gastritis, the doctor can go with an x-ray of the stomach.
This condition occurs when the body’s own immune system instead of providing protection to the body, mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells and tissues, in this case, the stomach lining, and cause gastritis.
This is common among patients who have an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s thyroid disease or type 1 diabetes.
The common and main symptoms of autoimmune gastritis include nausea, vomiting, a feeling of “fullness” in the upper abdomen after eating, and/or abdominal pain; This condition can also lead to more serious complications such as folate, iron, and/or B12 deficiency and stomach cancer.
It is caused by overindulging in alcohol which may limit the stomach’s ability to produce acids, resulting in inflammation of the stomach lining.
This condition can happen when inflammation occurs within the first section of the small intestine. The main and common causes of this condition are Helicobacter pylori bacteria and certain NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen.
The symptoms of patients suffering from duodenitis are abdominal pain, bloating, discolored stool and nausea.
What are the causes of gastritis?
The causes of gastritis :
- Bacterial Infection such as Helicobacter pylori infection.
- Regularly taking pain relievers medications which can erode the protective lining of the stomach.
- Aging is also a common reason, As in older adults, the stomach lining tends to thin with age and older people also tend to suffer from an autoimmune disorder
- Drinking Excessive Alcohol which can irritate the stomach lining,
- Severe stress can also cause acute gastritis.
- Viral infections Such as herpes simplex virus (seen in individuals with low immunity levels)
- Fungal infections
- Allergic reactions
- Food poisonings
- An autoimmune reaction
- A stressful condition, such as a bad injury or critical illness, or major surgery which can result in decreased blood flow to the stomach
What are the symptoms of gastritis?
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain and bloating
- Incessant hiccups
- Vomiting blood
- Feeling very full quickly
- Experiencing changes in weight
- Hiccups and burping
- Changes in bowel movements
- Darker stools / Bloody colored stools
- A burning ache/pain in upper abdomen just before eating
Who is prone to gastritis?
It includes the people who…
- Overindulge in drinking alcohol
- Suffer from any bacterial infection like Helicobacter pylori
- Undergo chemotherapy
- Take iron and potassium supplements
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Who take steroids
- Suffering from high levels of stress
- Elderly people whose stomach lining thins because of aging
Diagnosis of Gastritis
- Tests for H. pylori – breath, blood, or stool test
- Endoscopy – Using a scope to examine your upper digestive system
- X-ray of the upper digestive system
- Biopsy – in case of finding something unusual
What are the complications of gastritis?
- Gastric or peptic ulcers
- Stomach Cancer
- Atrophic gastritis
What is the treatment for gastritis?
- Proton pump inhibitors – Omeprazole, lansoprazole
- Acid-reducing medications – Ranitidine, Famotidine
- Antibiotic medications – Amoxicillin, metronidazole
Lifestyle and home remedies :
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Avoid irritating foods such as junk foods
- Avoid alcohol
- Consider switching pain relievers
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