Definition

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

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

Gastritis can be erosive. Erosive gastritis can wear away the lining of the stomach. It may also cause ulcers and bleeding.

Causes  ^

Causes of acute gastritis include:

Causes of chronic gastritis include:

Risk Factors  ^

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  ^

Gastritis may cause:

  • Abdominal burning and pain
  • Indigestion
  • Acid reflux, when stomach acid comes up the esophagus
  • 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  ^

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 contrast material to highlight abnormalities (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
  • Blood, breath, or stool tests—to check for infection with the bacteria H. pylori

Upper GI Endoscopy
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Treatment  ^

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

Medications

Medications for gastritis help relieve symptoms and help heal the stomach lining. Medications are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Antacids
  • H-2 blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antibiotics if an infection is present or possible

Treatment may also include stopping or changing NSAIDs or other medications that may be causing the irritation.

Prevention  ^

To help reduce your chance 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 your chance of H. pylori infection:

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

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to successfully quit. Avoid alcohol.

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

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Acute gastritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 18, 2013. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Chronic gastritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 6, 2012. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Gastritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/gastritis/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated April 23, 2012. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Last reviewed March 2016 by Daus Mahnke, MD  Last Updated: 5/7/2014