Gastritis is a general term used to describe a group of conditions with one common factor - inflammation of the protective stomach lining. The inflammation caused by gastritis is often the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers.
Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis), or appear gradually (chronic gastritis).
Gastritis is an inflammation of the protective lining of the stomach. Weakness in the stomach lining allows digestive juices to damage and inflame it, causing gastritis.
There are many probable causes for Gastritis that includes:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Usage of tobacco products
- Infection causes by Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori), a bacterium that infects the stomach lining and can weaken protective coating resulting in the digestive juices reaching the stomach lining
- Long-term use of non-steroidical anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin and ibuprofen
Gastritis may not produce any signs or symptoms in most cases, but the most common ones include:
- Black stool due to the blood in the bowel actions
- Blood in vomit
- Burning feeling in the upper abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and indigestion
- Pain in the upper abdomen
To diagnose gastritis, your doctor will review your personal and family medical history, and perform an examination. Your doctor may also recommend any of the following tests:
- Test for H. pylori. Your doctor may recommend a test to determine the presence of the bacterium H. pylori
- Endoscopy. An endoscopy involves the insertion of a long, thin, and flexible tube with a small camera at the end, down your throat and into your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine to determine any inflammation. A biopsy (removal of small tissue sample) may also be done and the sample will be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
Treatment for gastritis varies from case to case. The usual treatments for gastritis are as follows:
- Antibiotics to treat H. pylori. Your doctor may prescribe a regimen of antibiotics to kill the H. pylori bacterium.
- Antacids to neutralize stomach acid. Your doctor may prescribe an antacid to neutralize stomach acid and to promote pain relief.
- Acid reducing medications. Your doctor may prescribe acid blockers that reduce the amount of acid released into the digestive tract, providing pain relief and encourages healing of the stomach lining.
Preventing H. pylori infection
The spread of H. pylori remains unclear, however there is evidence that indicate that it could be transmitted from person to person or through contaminated food and water. Some of the steps you can take to protect against infections are to practice proper hand hygiene, and ensure that the food you eat is fully cooked.