Gastritis is a disease that happens when your stomach lining gets red and swollen (inflamed).
Your stomach lining is quite strong. In most of the cases acid does not hurt it. But it can get inflamed and irritated if you drink too much alcohol, eat spicy foods, or smoke.
What causes gastritis?
Gastritis can be caused by various things. It can be caused by diet and lifestyle habits such as:
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Having spicy foods
- Extreme stress
- Long-term use of aspirin and over-the-counter pain and fever medicines (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs)
Health issues that can lead to gastritis include:
- Infections which are caused by bacteria and viruses
- Major surgery
- Traumatic injury or burns
How is gastritis diagnosed?
Your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your past health. You may also have tests including:
- Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or barium swallows - This X-ray examines the organs of the top part of your digestive system. It examines the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). You will have to swallow metallic fluid called barium. Barium coats the organs so that they can be seen on the X-ray.
- Upper endoscopy, also called EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) - This test looks at the inside of your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. It uses a thin, lighted tube, called an endoscope. The tube has a camera at one end. The tube is put into your mouth and throat. Then it goes into your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Your doctor can see the inside of these organs. The doctor can also take a small tissue sample (biopsy) if needed.
- Blood tests - You will have to go through a test for H. pylori, a type of bacteria that can be present in your stomach. Another test will check for anemia. You can get anemia when you don’t have enough red blood cells.
- Stool spectrum - This test is performed to see if you have stomach bacteria that can cause gastritis. A sample of your stool is collected and sent to a lab. Another stool specimen can check for blood in your stool which may be a sign of gastritis if there has been bleeding.
- Breath test - You may have a test where your breath is collected and analyzed for stomach bacteria.
What are the symptoms of gastritis?
Each person’s symptoms can vary according to their extent of disease. The most common symptoms of gastritis include:
- Stomach upset or pain
- Belching and hiccups
- Belly or abdominal bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling of fullness or burning in your stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in your vomit or stool (a sign that your stomach lining may be bleeding)
The symptoms of gastritis may look like other health problems. Always see your doctor to be sure.
How is gastritis treated?
Your doctor will make a care plan for you based on:
- Your age, overall health, and past health
- How serious your case is
- How well you handle certain medicines, treatments, or therapies
- If your disease is expected to get worse
- What you would like to do
In many of the cases you will be prescribed with antacids and other medicines to reduce your stomach acid. This will help ease your symptoms and heal your stomach lining.
If your gastritis is caused by an illness or infection, you should also treat that health problem.
If your gastritis is caused by the H. pylori bacteria, you will be given medicines to help kill the bacteria. In most cases you will take more than 1 antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor (medicine that reduces the amount of acid in your stomach). You may also be given an anti-diarrheal.
Do not have any foods, drinks, or medicines that cause symptoms or irritate your stomach. If you smoke, it is best to quit.