Gastritis is the inflammation, erosion, and irritation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can either be acute, which develops suddenly, or chronic, which gradually occurs over time. Gastritis can cause ulcers, leading to bleeding and even gastric cancer if left untreated.
The stomach is a J-shaped organ involved in the digestion of food. Food comes to the stomach from the esophagus. The stomach muscles move the contents of the stomach around so vigorously that solid parts of the food are crushed and ground, and mixed into a smooth food pulp. The food is then sent to the small intestine for nutrient absorption in the blood.1
What are the causes of gastritis?
Gastritis has multiple causes, including excessive alcohol consumption, unprocessed “junk” food, chronic vomiting, stress, infections, chemicals, and certain medications. Here are some additional causes:
Helicobacter pylori resides in the thick lining of the stomach. These bacteria do not normally cause issues, but increased amounts of this bacteria will cause inflammation, which can result in acute or chronic gastritis. An untreated bacterial infection can cause ulcers and may lead to gastric cancer.
The immune system plays a role in body defense by producing antibodies and proteins that help fight pathogens. On rare occasions, the immune system will produce antibodies against the body's cells, including gastric tissue. Autoimmune reactions can also limit vitamin B12 absorption from the intestine, leading to pernicious anemia.
Aspirin and NSAIDS
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are pain-relieving medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. If these are taken for an extended period (longer than a few days), they may cause gastric ulcers and gastritis.
Bile reflux from the bile duct into the stomach also leads to gastritis.
Other causes of gastritis may include physical injury or hypertrophy of gastric folds.
Symptoms of Gastritis
The symptoms of gastritis depend upon the person's age, duration of inflammation, and severity of the inflammation. The following common symptoms can be observed3:
- Bloating and gas
- Nausea and vomiting
- Black, tarry stools
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Fullness of the stomach
- Loss of weight
- Vomiting blood or “coffee-ground material” (coagulated blood in your vomit)
First, a proper history will be obtained to gather information. Endoscopy with biopsy is then used for confirming the diagnosis. Biopsy tissue can be analyzed for both inflammation and H. pylori bacteria after the endoscopy. Some other helpful diagnostic procedures include:
- Upper GI X-ray
- Blood tests
- Stool and breath tests
To provide the best treatment, it is necessary to diagnose the actual underlying cause of gastritis.
Reduction of acid
Certain medications that reduce the secretion and production of hydrochloric acid (PPIs and H2 blockers) in the stomach help treat gastritis.
Some antibiotics have proven effective for treatment of infection caused by H. pylori bacteria. These antibiotics help replenish normal gastric microflora.4
Identify potential drug reactions
Aspirin, NSAIDs, and other medications have the potential to cause gastritis and should be decreased or eliminated if appropriate.5
A GERD or acid reflux diet will improve symptoms. Avoid certain foods like dairy products, lactose, and gluten.6
Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach often caused by alcohol consumption, junk foods, autoimmune disorders, specific medication, and bacterial infections. Signs and symptoms of the condition may vary depending upon the severity. Antibiotics, a specific diet plan, and prescription medications can be used for management.
- O’Connor A, O’Moráin C. Digestive function of the stomach. Dig Dis. 2014;32(3):186-191. doi:10.1159/000357848
- Blasco NS, Latorre VL, Gasca TR, Arenas AF. Gastritis. Med. 2022;13(2):74-81. doi:10.1016/j.med.2020.01.012
- Gastritis: Overview - InformedHealth.org - NCBI Bookshelf. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310265/
- Khoder G, Al-Menhali AA, Al-Yassir F, Karam SM. Potential role of probiotics in the management of gastric ulcer. Exp Ther Med. 2016;12(1):3. doi:10.3892/ETM.2016.3293
- Treatment of Gastritis & Gastropathy | NIDDK. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastritis-gastropathy/treatment
- Li Y, Su Z, Li P, et al. Association of Symptoms with Eating Habits and Food Preferences in Chronic Gastritis Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020. doi:10.1155/2020/5197201