Gastritis - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention & Treatment


Dr.Amrendra Prasad Singh profile Authored by Dr.Amrendra Prasad Singh on 22 Aug 2014 - 15:08.

Gastritis refers to a group of conditions characterized by inflammation and/ or irritation of the stomach lining. It is often caused when mucus (the protective layer of stomach wall) gets weakened and allows acidic juices to damage the stomach lining. The severity of the condition may vary from acute to chronic based on the onset of erosion. Usually, sudden occurrence of gastritis causes acute condition, whereas, gradual development of the gastritis leads to the chronic condition. Although gastritis is not a serious condition and may get recovered with effective treatment approaches, in some cases progressive ulcers may cause stomach cancer.

The common causes of gastritis may include:

  • Excessive alcohol (consumption may cause irritation).
  • Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.
  • Severe vomiting.
  • Excessive stress.
  • Several medications including aspirin and some other anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Pernicious anaemia (an autoimmune condition characterized by insufficient uptake of Vitamin B12 by body cells, which affects the production of RBCs).
  • A reverse flow of bile from bile duct to the stomach (bile reflux).
  • Other viral infections.
  • Injury.

Gastritis may or may not cause symptoms, sometimes they may go unnoticed. Some of the common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Burning sensation in the stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Black stools

The diagnosis of gastritis may involve various tests and procedures in addition to physical examination and assessment of medical history. The diagnosis may include:

  • Blood and stool tests: To detect H. pylori infection. 
  • Breath test: To trace out the presence of H. pylori bacteria. This involves drinking a glass of water mixed with radioactive carbon. In the presence of radioactive carbon, H. pylori bacteria get breakdown and come out with exhalation. Exhaled sample of breath will be then examined for the presence of bacteria.
  • Endoscopy: To examine the upper digestive system of the patient for the presence of inflammation or erosion.
  • Biopsy: Extract suspected tissue sample and examine it for the presence of H.pylori along the stomach lining.
  • Imaging studies: This involves an X-ray of the upper digestive system. The patient may be asked to consume liquid containing barium to trace ulcers.

Several factors may increase the risk of developing gastritis. These may include:

  • Eating unhealthy food.
  • Exposure to infections.
  • Regular use of certain medications, especially painkillers.
  • Excessive smoking.
  • Aged.
  • Stressful conditions for a long time.
  • Other underlying diseases such as AIDS, infections or Crohn’s disease.

Treatment of gastritis will be decided as per the identified underlying cause of the condition. When the cause is anti-inflammatory medications and/ or excess consumption of alcohol – one can get rid of acute condition by strictly avoiding the consumption of alcohol or specific drugs. Chronic condition may require some other medication to relieve symptoms and help in recovery.

Antibiotics: These are often prescribed when the cause is H. pylori infection.  Commonly prescribed antibiotics may include amoxicillin, clarithrmycine, metronidazole and so on for course of a week or so.

Medications to combat excess acid production and enable recovery: These include proton pump inhibitors (PPI) drugs (example, omeprazole, rabeprazole, lansoprazole etc.). It may be prescribed with calcium supplements, as long term use of PPIs may make the bones brittle and increase the risk of fractures of the spine, wrist and hipin particular.

Acid blocker medications: Histamine blockers such as ranitidine, cimetidine and nizatidine may be prescribed to reduce the acid in the digestive tract.

Medications to neutralize acid in the digestive tract: These medications provide relief from severe pain and also promote healing. However these medications may have side effects such as diarrhoea or constipation.

Lifestyle interventions:

Several home remedies and lifestyle interventions may help one to reduce the symptoms of the disease and also may help to prevent the condition. These may include:

  • Eating in small portions, but more frequently – it avoids indigestion and thus excess acid production.
  • Eating your evening meal at least two hours before going to bed.
  • Avoiding stressful situations and try to be calm and relaxed.
  • Avoiding certain foods that may aggravate or irritate the stomach.

Avoidable foods include:

  • Spicy foods
  • Carbonated cold drinks, alcohol and so on.
  • Orange and grapefruit
  • Fried foods like finger chips
  • Fatty and fast foods
  • Coffee and/or tea, both black and green tea may be harmful
  • Excessive chilli powder, black pepper, onion and garlic
  • Tomato products like sauce.

Preferred food for gastritis patients may include:

  • Brown rice
  • Vegetables and Fruits
  • Whole grains, Beans
  • Low fatty food
  • Eggs, Fish, lean meat and all healthy foods of your choice

A healthy body can prevent many clinical ailments and so gastritis too. Following measures may be adapted to prevent the gastritis:

  • Eating healthy and exercising daily
  • Practicing yoga and/or meditations
  • Maintaining good hygiene (to avoid H. Pylori infection)
  • Avoiding raw food instead of completely cooked foods
*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.