What is Gastritis?

By  , Expert Content
May 29, 2012

Gastritis describes a group of conditions that cause inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It is also known as dyspepsia. Gastritis can be acute or chronic. When the symptoms occur suddenly, it is known as acute gastritis. In chronic gastritis, the symptoms occur slowly over time. Acute gastritis is more common than chronic gastritis. Acute gastritis occurs in about eight out of every 1,000 people and chronic gastritis affects about two out of every 10,000 people.

What causes gastritis?

There are many factors that can lead to inflammation of the lining of the stomach.

Helicobacter pylori infection: The most common cause of gastritis is infection with the bacteria helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). The bacterium lives in the stomach and can cause both acute and chronic infection. In some people without treatment, the infection may lead to ulcers and occasionally to stomach cancer. In developed countries such as the United States, about 20 to 50 percent of the population may be infected with H. Pylori. Infection with H. pylori is more common in areas with poor sanitation and higher population density. According to studies, infection rates in some developing countries are as high as 80 percent.

Other causes of gastritis: Gastritis can be caused by irritation of the lining of stomach because of excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress or the use of certain medications such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Symptoms of gastritis

Symptoms of gastritis can vary from one person to another and in many people, there may be no symptoms at all. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • feeling of nausea or recurrent upset stomach,
  • sensation of abdominal bloating,
  • abdominal pain (may vary from mild to severe),
  • vomiting,    
  • recurrent indigestion,
  • burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach (may occur between meals or at night),
  • bothersome or recurrent hiccups,
  • loss of appetite,
  • vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material,
  • black, tarry stools,
  • unintended weight loss,
  • excessive gas or flatulence and
  • change in taste.

Treatment of gastritis

Medications given for treatment of gastritis include:

  • medications to block acid production and promote healing (rabeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, omeprazole, esomeprazole),
  • medications to reduce acid production (cimetidine, ranitidine hydrochloride, famotidine),
  • antacids that neutralize stomach acid and
  • antibiotics to treat Helicobacter pylori infection.

A combination of above mentioned medications is prescribed depending on the severity of symptoms aimed at reducing stomach acid, relieving symptoms and promoting the healing of the stomach lining. If gastritis is not treated, it may lead to chronic gastritis and ulcers in the stomach that can cause blood loss or in some cases, increase in risk of developing stomach cancer.



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