If you have not heard of Gastritis, simply it means the inflammation that occurs within the lining of the stomach. If you have Gastritis then you may experience upper abdominal pain, nausea and indigestion which are the most common symptoms of Gastritis. When the condition of Gastritis is mild or acute then it can be treated but if it left untreated then it becomes chronic, resulting in ulcers in the lining of stomach which leads to the risk of developing stomach cancer. For most of the people, Gastritis is not a serious problem and improves with the treatment.
For a better understanding of Gastritis, let’s examine the symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis and treatment for Gastritis:
What is Gastritis?
Before going into the detail of Gastritis, it is better to understand the functioning of one of the vital organs of human body: the stomach.
The stomach is a vital organ of digestive system which is located in the abdomen just below the ribs. When we swallow the food, it goes through the esophagus into the stomach where this swallowed food is digested and break down with the help of hydrochloric acid (HCL) which is produced by the stomach itself. The lining of the stomach is called epithelium which is layered into several folds. This epithelium lining is coated with thick protective mucous layer which is secreted by special glands and this coated layer of mucus is called as gastric mucosa.
Usually, the term of Gastritis is misused for referring different problems in upper abdomen, but the true Gastritis is the inflammation that occurs in the gastric mucosa due to different reasons, (we will discuss these reasons/causes later in this post). All or some parts of Gastric Mucosa may be inflamed.
What are the types of Gastritis?
There are two main types Gastritis, which include:
- Acute Gastritis: This type of Gastritis can cause sudden pain and inflammation in the stomach but it doesn’t last for a long time period and stops within few days.
- Chronic Gastritis: This type of Gastritis develops gradually and lasts for a long time period. The symptoms are not severe and dull in chronic Gastritis.
What are the signs and symptoms of Gastritis?
The symptoms vary from person to person while most of people didn’t experience any symptoms. Also the symptoms of acute and chronic gastritis are similar and the common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Recurrent stomach upset
- Burning feeling in stomach between meals or at night
- A feeling of full upper abdomen after eating meals
- Weight loss
- Loss in appetite
- Black stools or blood in stools
What causes Gastritis?
Inflammation of the stomach lining is the main cause of Gastritis. It is important for you to understand that what things can cause this inflammation to Gastric Mucosa. These include:
- Certain medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori): It is the bacteria that live in mucous lining and it produces chemicals that cause irritation and inflammation to the mucosa.
- Infections which are caused by bacteria and viruses
- Bile reflux: It is the backflow of bile into stomach from bile tract, which connects liver with gallbladder.
- Excess use of alcohol
- Kidney failure
- Severe stress
- Digestive illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
How is Gastritis diagnosed?
In order to diagnose Gastritis, the doctor will ask you about your family medical history and review your medical history, after that the doctor performs a thorough physical exam. Then he/she may recommend any of following tests according to your specific conditions:
- Upper GI Endoscopy: During this procedure, a thin tube called Endoscope having a tiny camera is inserted through your mouth into the stomach in order to check the stomach lining for inflammation. The doctor may also perform Biopsy, which is a procedure in which tiny sample of tissue from stomach lining is taken for analysis.
- Blood tests: The doctor will perform various blood tests in order to check the amount of red blood cells which determines whether you have anemia, a condition in which red blood cells decrease. These tests are also used to screen for H. pylori infection.
- Stool test or Fecal occult blood test: This test is used to examine the presence of blood in your stool, which possibly indicates Gastritis.
How is Gastritis treated?
The treatment of Gastritis includes various options, which are:
Identification of the cause:
At first, the doctor identifies the cause and once it is identified then steps can be taken to avoid that specific exposure. For example, if alcohol is triggering your inflammation then you can avoid the consumption of alcohol. Anti-inflammatory medications which you taking for other conditions can be stopped or replaced with an alternative medicine.
Certain medications such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors and H-2 blockers can be recommended to reduce stomach acid. If your Gastritis is caused by H. pylori then the doctor recommends antibiotics along with stomach acid blocking drugs.
You may need to modify certain things in your diet which includes limiting the consumption of alcohol and caffeine, avoiding hot and spicy foods, eliminating some irritating foods such as lactose from dairy products and gluten from wheat.
Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of Gastritis then immediately consult the doctor before the condition worsens. Moreover, make sure to talk to the doctor before starting any Gastritis treatment on your own or stopping any medication that you’re currently taking.
You can consult specialists and board certified gastroenterologists at GI Endoscopy Practice in NJ who are experienced in treating patients experiencing gastrointestinal tract problems and high trained in performing advanced diagnostic tests. They give you the right treatment that you truly deserve at the right time.