Gastritis

Definition

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can be defined as one of the following:

  • Acute—comes on suddenly and lasts for a short time
  • Chronic—either long lasting or recurrent

Gastritis can wear away at the lining of the stomach. It may also cause ulcers and bleeding.

Causes    TOP

Causes of acute gastritis include any of the following:

Causes of chronic gastritis include any of the following:

  • Bacterial infection, such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Viral infection
  • Fungal infection
  • NSAID use
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Reflux of bile into the stomach
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Crohn disease or sarcoidosis
  • Pernicious anemia—a cause of autoimmune gastritis
  • Radiation therapy
  • Swallowing caustic substances

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of acute gastritis include:

  • NSAID use
  • Excess alcohol use
  • Head injury
  • Surgery
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure

Factors that increase your chance of getting chronic gastritis include:

  • H. pylori infection
  • NSAID use
  • Excessive alcohol intake

Symptoms    TOP

Gastritis may cause:

  • Abdominal burning and pain
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux
  • Burping
  • Bloating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling full
  • Nausea and vomiting

If the gastritis is causing bleeding, you may notice:

  • Bloody or black vomit
  • Bloody or dark black, tarry stools

Diagnosis    TOP

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include:

  • Upper GI series—x-rays with a special dye to highlight abnormal areas (also called a barium swallow)
  • Upper GI endoscopy —a thin, lighted tube inserted down the throat and into the stomach to examine the inside of the stomach
  • Biopsy—a sample of tissue is removed and examined in a lab
  • Blood, breath, or stool tests—to check for infection with the bacteria H. pylori

Upper GI Endoscopy

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Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include:

Medicine

Medicines may help to relieve symptoms. Some can also help to heal the stomach lining. Medicine can be available over the counter or by prescription. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Antacids
  • H2 blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible

Treatment may also include stopping or changing medicine that is causing problems. Your doctor can find an alternative if needed.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce the chances of gastritis from NSAIDs:

  • Use other drugs when possible for managing pain.
  • Take the lowest possible dose.
  • Do not take drugs longer than needed.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking the drugs.

To help reduce the chances of H. pylori infection:

  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom. Wash your hands before eating or preparing food.
  • Drink water from a safe source.

If you smoke, look for ways to quit. Your doctor may recommend some tools to help you.

Avoid alcohol. If you do drink, drink in moderation. Moderation is 1 drink or less a day for women and 2 drinks a day or less for men.

RESOURCES:

American College of Gastroenterology
http://patients.gi.org
American Gastroenterological Association
http://www.gastro.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
https://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
http://www.cdhf.ca

References:

Acute gastritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115779/Acute-gastritis. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2018.
Chronic gastritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T170655/Chronic-gastritis. Updated August 28, 2014. Accessed April 4, 2018.
Gastritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastritis. Updated July 2015. Accessed April 4, 2018.
Last reviewed April 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 7/19/2018

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