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Gastritis

Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult
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What is gastritis?

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. While the lining of the stomach is quite strong and can withstand strong acid, drinking too much alcohol, eating spicy foods, or smoking can cause the lining to become inflamed and irritated.

What causes of gastritis?

Gastritis may be caused by the following:

  • drinking too much alcohol
  • eating spicy foods
  • smoking
  • prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • infection with bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, or Helicobacter pylori
  • major surgery
  • traumatic injury or burns
  • severe infection
  • certain diseases, such as megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia, autoimmune disorders, and chronic bile reflux

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

The following are the most common symptoms of gastritis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • stomach upset or pain
  • belching
  • abdominal bleeding
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • feeling of fullness or burning in the stomach
  • blood in vomit or stool (a sign that the stomach lining may be bleeding)

The symptoms of gastritis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is gastritis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for gastritis may include the following:

  • gastroscopy - during the procedure, the physician inserts a thin tube with a camera, called a gastroscope, through the patient's mouth down into the stomach to examine the stomach lining. The physician checks for inflammation of the lining and may remove a tiny sample of the lining for testing (known as a biopsy).
  • blood test (to measure red blood cells and possibly detect anemia - a condition where there are not enough red blood cells present, which can cause gastritis)
  • stool culture - checks for the presence of abnormal bacteria in the digestive tract that may cause diarrhea and other problems. A small sample of stool is collected and sent to a laboratory by your physician's office. In two or three days, the test will show whether abnormal bacteria are present; presence of blood in the stool may be a sign of gastritis.

Treatment for gastritis:

Specific treatment for gastritis will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance of specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference

Generally, treatment for gastritis involves antacids and other medications aimed at reducing stomach acid, relieving symptoms, and promoting the healing of the stomach lining, as acid irritates the inflamed tissue. If the gastritis is related to an illness or infection, that problem will be treated as well.

Patients are also advised to avoid foods, beverages, or medications that cause symptoms or irritate the lining of the stomach. If the gastritis is related to smoking, quitting is recommended.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Digestive Disorders

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