Gastritis is a common condition for which a person visits primary care doctor. It is diagnosed based on signs and symptoms such as upper abdominal pain with nausea or heartburn. Treatment may be started based on clinical diagnosis. Tests may be done if the diagnosis is not clear, if the patient does not respond to treatment, symptoms are severe or complications are suspected. Some of the tests done in a person with signs and symptoms of gastritis include:
Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy: This is the most common diagnostic test that is done if gastritis is suspected. During this procedure, the inside of the stomach is examined. It is a safe medical procedure when performed by a doctor, who is well-trained to do it and the risks of complications are extremely rare. An endoscope is a flexible or rigid tube, which has a light source attached to it. It is inserted through mouth or nose and into the stomach. The light is delivered via an optical fiber system and helps the doctor to see and examine the inside of the body. It may have a channel through which medical instruments or manipulators may be inserted. Before the procedure, the doctor will give you a medicine to reduce discomfort and anxiety. The doctor will check the lining of the oesophagus, stomach and first portion of the small intestine for erosion or ulcers. If needed, a biopsy, which involves collecting tiny samples of tissue for examination with a microscope, may be done. Sample of tissue is taken from the part that looks abnormal.
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series: An upper GI series is a series of x-rays that are taken to look at the oesophagus, stomach and first part of small intestine. You will be given a white, chalky solution containing barium to drink after which a series of X-rays will be taken. The contrast produced by barium outlines the oesophagus and stomach and can show changes in the stomach lining such as erosions or ulcers.
Blood test: Blood tests to check for anaemia, a condition in which haemoglobin is reduced may be done. As blood loss occurs slowly from the ulcer, it may lead to iron deficiency anaemia over time. Anaemia may be a sign of chronic bleeding in the stomach.
Stool test: Stool is checked for the presence of blood, which is another sign of bleeding in the stomach.
Tests for H. pylori infection: Breath test for Helicobacter pylori, which lives in the stomach, may be done. It can break down a substance called urea. You will be given a capsule that contains urea to swallow. A C14 radioactive label is attached to it. If a Helicobacter pylori bacterium is present in the stomach, the urea is broken down and the radioactive part is breathed out. After a 15-minute wait, the breath is collected in a balloon and tested for presence of radioactive C14. The patient’s blood or stool may also be tested for signs of H. pylori infection.