What is Gastritis?

Causes
Diagnosis
Symptoms
Prevention
Treatment
Complications

Gastritis is a medical term for inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It means that white blood cells move into the wall of the stomach as a response to some type of injury.

It does not mean that there is an ulcer or cancer. It simply means there is either acute or chronic inflammation.

Causes

H. pylori
This disease has many underlying causes. One of the causes is infection with the bacterium H. pylori. This bacterium also causes peptic ulcers amongst other illnesses.

Viral infections
Brief bouts of gastritis are quite common during short-term viral infections.

Irritants
These may be chemical and/or environmental irritants. They damage the stomach lining and cause gastritis.

These irritants include excessive alcohol, cigarette smoke, corticosteroids and other prescription medications. Medications such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (e.g. Advil and Motrin) can also cause gastritis. Other causative medications include naproxen (e.g. Aleve and Naprosyn).

Other Causes
Gastritis may develop after major surgery, traumatic injury, burns, or severe infections.

Diseases such as pernicious anemia, autoimmune disorders, and chronic bile reflux, can cause gastritis as well.

This desease is common in people over the age 60; those who drink excessive alcohol; smokers; those taking corticosteroids and other prescription medications that can cause gastritis. It is also common in people who regularly use aspirin or NSAIDs. People who use high doses of NSAIDs are particularly vulnerable.

Diagnosis

A doctor can easily suspect the disease by listening to your medical history. Conclusive diagnosis is made by endoscopy and biopsy of the stomach lining.

In endoscopy, a lighted flexible scope is passed into the stomach after putting the patient under mild sedation. Pictures of the stomach are then taken. Biopsies can also be obtained for analysis under the microscope.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Pain between the navel and lower ribs
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Belching
  • Bloating

    Prevention

    To prevent gastritis:
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Do not drink excessive alcohol.
  • Stop taking NSAIDs if they upset your stomach. Speak with your doctor immediately about it.

    Treatment

    The following steps if taken can help you feel better within days or no latter than a week or two;

  • Stop smoking
  • Stop drinking alcohol. After the inflammation heals, you may be advised stop drinking alcohol altogether or to consume no more than one to two drinks a day.
  • Avoid foods that may make the symptoms worse. These are mostly fatty foods or foods that are spicy or very acidic. Examples are coffee, orange juice and tomato juice.
  • Use medicines that decrease stomach acids.

    Over the counter antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums or generic forms may be helpful.

    You can also try H2 blockers such as Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid and generic equivalents. H2 blockers also are available in prescription.

    Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid) are the strongest acid blockers. They are however more expensive.

    If you still have symptoms, you need to see your doctor immediately. If further testing confirm that you have an H. pylori infection, you need to be treated with medications that kill the bacteria.

    Complications

    Effective treatment and preventive measures for this disease are easily available. Serious complications are therefore unusual.

    An exception is the H. pylori infection. When present for a long time, H. pylori may lead to stomach cancer in some individuals.

    H. pylori infection can also lead to a malignancy of the lymph system called a lymphoma. An example of a low-grade lymphoma is MALT lymphoma. Eliminating the infection from the stomach does cure this type of lymphoma.

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