Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach. The lining of the stomach often looks red, irritated and swollen, and it may have raw areas that can bleed.

Your stomach normally produces acid to help with the digestion of food and to kill contaminating pathogens. This acid is corrosive, so some cells on the stomach lining produce a natural mucous barrier for mucosal protection. There is normally a balance between the amount of acid that you make and the mucous defense barrier. Gastritis may develop if there is an alteration in this balance, allowing the acid to damage the lining of the stomach.
Causes of this include the following:
  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Too much alcohol consumptions
  • Food poisoning
  • Smoking
In many cases of gastritis, there are no symptoms. But, when symptoms are present, they include:
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Tightness under the xiphoid process, usually during or after meals
  • Burning stomach pain
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • May have vomiting with blood
Based on your medical history, symptoms and physical examination, your doctor will decide if you should try medical treatment first to see if symptoms improve or if you need further testing. You may need blood tests, stool test or a breath test (Urea Breath Test) to determine whether you have an H. pylori infection. In some cases, your doctor may want to inspect your stomach lining directly with a procedure called gastroscopy, in which a flexible, lighted instrument is passed into your stomach. During the procedure, your doctor can take a biopsy, a small tissue sample to be examined in the laboratory.
Treatment for gastritis depends on its cause. Some possible treatment methods may include:
  • Antibiotics to kill the bacteria
  • Antacids
  • Avoiding stomach irritants
  • Avoiding factors that increase stomach acid
  • Proton pump inhibitors and other prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Attempting to manage your stress
  • Avoid spicy food

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