Gastritis

Gastritis is a widespread condition across the world with approximately around 2 million patients visiting the doctor in the United States alone. Read and know all about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and more about the disease.

What is Gastritis?

It is a very discomforting condition that involves swelling of the mucosal lining of the stomach. It is regarded as one of the most common stomach disorders.

Gastritis Types

This disorder is broadly classified into two types:

Acute Gastritis

Acute Gastritis Pictures
Picture 1 – Acute Gastritis

It is a painful swelling of the stomach lining that arises suddenly. In some cases, it involves mucosal bleeding which typically subsides within 24 hours. The condition results from damage to the tissues caused by the acid within the stomach itself. The bacterium “Helicobacter pylori” is responsible for 90% of Acute Gastritis cases.

Chronic Gastritis

As the name indicates, this form involves chronic or long-term swelling of the mucosal lining. It can persist for many years and 90% cases of this disease, like the acute form, are caused by H. Pylori bacteria. The chronic form is further differentiated into Type A, Type B and Type C.

Erosive Gastritis

It is a type of Gastritis in which the inner stomach lining begins to erode or wear away. It may develop suddenly (Acute) or develop gradually over time (Chronic). The disease usually results from excess stress and is also caused by other factors like infection, injury, autoimmune disorders, high use of alcohol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). It gives rise to various discomforting symptoms like nausea, bloating, belching, nausea and loss of appetite.

Atrophic Gastritis

It is also referred to as Type A or Type B Gastritis and involves infection and inflammation of the mucosal lining. It is a severe type of mucosal swelling that starts to atrophy (waste away) the gastric tissue present within the stomach. It also involves other symptoms such as nausea, lack of appetite, sore tongue, stomach ulcers and restlessness.

Gastritis Symptoms

However, many people with this condition do not experience any symptoms. In cases where the disorder makes itself apparent, the discomforting symptoms usually include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain or burning ache in the upper abdomen, due to indigestion
  • A sensation of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating

If the disease leads to bleeding from the mucosal lining, patients may vomit blood or pass black stools. The vomit may also be dark, coffee-colored in appearance.

Gastritis Causes

The condition usually arises when the protective layer of the stomach gets weakened or damaged in some way. The layer is lined by mucus which helps protect the stomach from the acids that aid digestion. Weaknesses in the mucosal lining lead to its damage and inflammation by the digestive juices. This weakness is primarily a result of:

Alcohol usage

Excessive alcohol intake can damage the mucosal lining and cause this problem.

Bacterial infection

The disorder may also result due to infection caused by the bacterium “Helicobacter Pylori.”

Prolonged medicinal usage

When taken over a prolonged duration, certain medicines like Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Aspirin can result in the development of this disease.

The syndrome may also result from other less-common causes like

  • Extreme stress
  • Cocaine abuse
  • Bile reflux
  • Intake of corrosive or caustic substances
  • Autoimmune disorders, like Pernicious Anemia
  • Viral infection, caused by Herpes Simplex or Cytomegalovirus (particularly in people with weak immunity)

Gastritis Diagnosis

A thorough physical examination and consideration of medical history of patients is enough for physicians to suspect this condition. However, definite diagnosis requires carrying out medical tests like:

  • H. Pylori tests
  • Endoscopy of the stomach (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy)
  • X-ray of upper digestive system
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC), to check low blood count or anemia
  • Stool test, to analyze small amount of blood in fecal matter

Gastritis Treatment

The treatment of the condition depends on its specific cause. Medical treatment of the disease involves use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines that reduce the amount of stomach acids. These include:

  • H2 antagonists, such as Cimetidine (Tagamet), Famotidine (Pepsid), Nizatidine (Axid) and Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Antacids, which can help cure chronic cases caused by H. Pylori infection
  • Antibiotics, such as Amoxicillin, Metronidazole (Flagyl), Tetracycline and Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI), like Esomeprazole (Nexium), Iansoprazole (Prevacid), Omeprazole (Prilosec), Pantoprazole (Protonix) and Rabeprazole (AcipHex)

Gastritis Home Remedies

Some of the popular home remedies for this disorder include:

Having more fruits

The diet for Gastritis patients should consist of plenty of fruits and leafy vegetables which are rich in anti-oxidants and can help cleanse the digestive system.

Consuming curd

Having a cup full of curd with a spoon-full of black salt can work as an effective cure for the disease.

Dried figs

Eating dried figs can aid in curing the disease. Soaking dried figs in warm water for a few minutes and drinking the water afterwards can also work as a powerful remedy.

Gastritis Prognosis

The condition generally has a good prognosis. The outcome is typically dependent on the specific cause. It also depends on whether the patient has changed his or her lifestyle to eliminate irritants like cigarettes and alcohol.

Gastritis Complications

If left untreated, the condition may lead to stomach ulcers and acute loss of blood through stomach bleeding. Certain types of Chronic Gastritis elevate the risk of Gastric Cancer, particularly in case of changes in the cells of the stomach lining or extensive thinning of the mucosal lining.

Gastritis Prevention

The condition can be prevented in various ways, like:

Frequently washing hands

Washing hands often with soap and water can help you protect yourself from infections caused by bacterium, such as H. Pylori.

Stopping causative medicines

Avoiding intake of medicines that may cause Gastritis, such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin or Naproxen, may also help prevent the condition.

Avoiding irritants

Cessation of smoking or alcohol intake can also help avoid this disorder.

If you have a family member showing symptoms of Gastritis, get in touch with a physician immediately. It is a good idea to opt for early cure as the condition can be extremely discomforting for patients and result in complications if left untreated. With timely treatment, recovery can be good and fast.

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