Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library



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  ^

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  ^

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
  • 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 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
Nucleus factsheet image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Treatment  ^

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


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  ^

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.


American College of Gastroenterology

American Gastroenterological Association


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation


Acute gastritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed April 4, 2018.

Chronic gastritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated August 28, 2014. Accessed April 4, 2018.

Gastritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated July 2015. Accessed April 4, 2018.

Last reviewed April 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD  Last Updated: 7/19/2018