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What is Gastritis?

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What is Gastritis?

writtenByWritten by: Shannon Chapman
Shannon Chapman

Shannon Chapman

Shannon enjoys breaking down technical subjects and giving others the tools to make informed decisions. Her interests include behavioral economics, sustainable living, meditation, and healthy cooking.

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February 24, 2021 Read Time - 8 minutes

Know the Basics: What Is Gastritis? 

Gastritis is any condition in which stomach lining is inflamed. There are a couple very common causes of gastritis, and also a few dangerous complications. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Long-lasting inflammations can further damage the stomach lining and lead to stomach (gastric) ulcers.”

Keep reading to learn more about gastritis, as well as its symptoms, causes, and risk factors, plus foods to avoid and treatment options.

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Different Types of Gastritis 

Gastritis can be grouped into two different forms: 

  • Acute gastritis – Unexpected inflammation in the stomach lining that occurs suddenly. 
  • Chronic gastritis – The condition of consistent and slow swelling that occurs over time.

The other groupings of gastritis are: 

  • Non-erosive
  • Erosive 

Get answers to the question of “what is gastritis?” in even more depth by learning about the different types of gastritis here.

What Is Acute Gastritis vs Chronic Gastritis?

Acute gastritis occurs in 8 of every 1,000 people, whereas chronic gastritis is more uncommon, and occurs in only two of every 10,000 people. The symptom period for cases of gastritis may also vary, ranging from a short episode to a longer duration.

Most cases of acute gastritis have a fast recovery and don’t need treatment at all, or simple over-the-counter medicines can help. 

Chronic gastritis usually needs more time to heal, and might require more assistance from a healthcare professional. 

Erosive vs Non-Erosive Gastritis 

Gastritis can also be erosive or non-erosive; erosive gastritis causes shallow breaks or deep sores in the stomach lining while non-erosive gastritis causes inflammation of the lining of the stomach but does not come with erosion or ulcers.

Gastritis Symptoms

What does gastritis feel like? Since gastritis is defined by the inflammation within the stomach lining, the most common symptom evident in gastritis patients is pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen.

It is possible, however, for some patients with gastritis to not have any symptoms, which makes diagnosis and treatment difficult––this is usually in the case of non-erosive gastritis. 

In contrast, a patient with erosive gastritis may suffer from multiple symptoms, which are mostly attributed to the resulting ulcers and stomach bleeding. These more severe symptoms can include, but are not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath (Dyspnea)
  • Vomiting (sometimes with blood involved)
  • Black stool
  • Red streaks or blood in stool
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Nausea
  • Paleness of the skin

What Causes Gastritis?

There are two major causes of gastritis: 

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs
  • The bacteria Helicobacter pylori, H. pylori, which exists in our stomach lining 

However, in some cases, gastritis can also be caused by: 

  • Surgical conditions
  • Physical stress
  • Infections
  • Social habits like excessive alcohol use

Altogether, anything that causes stomach irritation, inflammation, or erosion can cause gastritis. The most common type of chronic gastritis is caused by the H. pylori bacteria living in the human digestive tract, which can also cause ulcers in the lining of the stomach and upper small intestine.

If unnoticed and untreated, these ulcers can lead to gastritis or even stomach cancer further down the road. Gastritis is also caused by irritation in the stomach from using anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. 

Medications That Cause Gastritis 

Daily aspirin use increases the risk of developing stomach ulcers, drastically increasing the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. However, aspirin is not the only type of drug known to increase the risk of gastritis.

Common medications that increase the risk of developing gastritis:

  • Aspirin
  • Prescription steroids, like prednisone
  • Potassium supplements
  • NSAIDs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen
  • Cancer chemotherapy medications
  • Iron tablets

What Are Gastritis Risk Factors?

Other common risk factors of gastritis include:

  • Bile reflux, or the backflow of bile created in the bile tract that connects the liver and gallbladder to the stomach
  • Excessive vomiting, which can cause weakness in the stomach lining
  • Excessive drinking can also weaken the stomach lining and cause it to lose some of its protective cells that prevent stomach acid from damaging the stomach, a precursor to gastritis.

Additional conditions that are risk factors for gastritis include:

  • Autoimmune diseases
  • After-radiation cancer treatment
  • Stomach operations
  • Medical procedures like endoscopies
  • Being critically ill or injured
  • Accidentally swallowing chemicals and objects including corrosives like acid or lye

Researching and learning about the different types of gastritis such as chronic, acute, atrophic, erosive, alcoholic, autoimmune, and antral gastritis is important when determining the next course of action for your medical needs.

What Is a Gastritis Diagnosis Like?

Gastritis is diagnosed using a series of examinations by a trained physician. Some primary care doctors might be able to diagnose gastritis, especially if it’s acute, but you might need to see a specialist. 

Some ways to diagnose gastritis for certain: 

  • Looking for inflammation with an endoscope 
  • Removing tissue samples for biopsy at a lab

You can also speak to an online doctor, as they might be able to recognize the symptoms of gastritis right away and help you find the right treatment. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Complications of Gastritis

In addition to these acute physical symptoms, gastritis can also cause some more serious medical complications, especially if the disease manifests itself chronically. Listed below are many of the conditions:

  • Peptic ulcers – These are open sores that can form in the stomach or the upper region of the small intestine. The most common cause of peptic ulcers is the overuse of NSAID medications like Advil, Motrin, and aspirin.
  • Atrophic gastritis – This is the accumulative loss of the stomach lining and/or glands. This is a serious condition that results from moderate to severe chronic gastritis that is not treated by a medical professional.
  • Anemia – Since erosive gastritis often results in bleeding within the stomach, anemia can develop. Anemia occurs when a patient’s red blood cells are smaller and/ or exist in fewer quantities than normal. Treatment for anemia often includes medication containing some absorbable form of iron which helps the body replenish the production of red blood cells
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency – Gastritis can also cause a patient to not decrease in their ability to absorb Vitamin B-12. In a condition known as pernicious anemia, Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs due to a decrease in the production of factors key to the protein responsible for Vitamin B-12 absorption.
  • Growths in the stomach lining – Chronic H. pylori gastritis increases the odds of developing growths or polyps that can result in a stomach cancer called gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.
  • Stomach cancer – Ulcers can cause an increased risk of stomach cancer. 

If you are experiencing gastritis symptoms, it is important to seek out treatment, so you avoid severe complications such as these. 

What Is Good for Gastritis? 

Besides seeking medical treatment, which is likely necessary for chronic gastritis, you can change up your habits at home to reduce gastritis, or prevent symptoms from worsening. Some examples include: 

  • Follow an anti-inflammatory diet – What is gastritis besides simple inflammation? Cutting out foods that cause inflammation can help prevent and reduce existing gastritis. 
  • Take supplements – Some research suggests that garlic or garlic supplements can help symptoms. Talk to your doctor about other supplements, and make sure they don’t interfere with medications or other conditions. 
  • Probiotics – Probiotics help build healthy bacteria in your stomach, helping maintain gut health overall. 
  • Essential oils – Some essential oils, like lemongrass and lemon verbena, have been shown to resist H. pylori. 
  • Avoid stress – Stress is a big trigger for gastritis flare-ups. 
  • Eat lighter meals – Being easier on your digestive system can reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid smoking – Smoking can ruin the stomach lining and increase the risk of stomach cancer. 
  • Avoid medications that cause inflammation – A lot of painkillers can affect your stomach lining, so avoiding them can prevent gastritis. 

What Should I Not Eat With Gastritis? 

Eating smaller meals and choosing an anti-inflammatory diet can be helpful with gastritis. Some foods that cause inflammation for many people include:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Acidic foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol

Some foods that contain probiotics and are great for gut health include: 

  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha 
  • Kimchi 
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut 

How Can I Get Immediate Relief from Gastritis? 

What is gastritis treatment? Well, besides avoiding what is causing the inflammation, there are some medication options that are available over-the-counter and as a prescription: 

  • Antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Medications to reduce acid production (acid blockers)
  • Antacids that neutralize stomach acid

Most of these, besides antibiotics, can be bought over-the-counter. There are also prescription-grade versions that work more efficiently for severe cases. Speak to a doctor about getting prescription medication for gastritis. 

How Long Does It Take for Gastritis to Heal? 

Acute gastritis might go away within a day, but come back again in bouts when you eat certain foods, drink alcohol, smoke, or are stressed. 

Chronic gastritis is a prolonged condition and might need treatment, including medications to get rid of.  

When to See a Doctor for Gastritis

If you are experiencing severe symptoms of stomach inflammation, or chronic inflammation that doesn’t ever go away, it’s likely time to make an appointment with a PlushCare doctor. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Can You Get Gastritis Treatment Online?

Gastritis treatment online can be anything from simple advice from a physician, to having a doctor order lab tests for you to provide samples for. 

PlushCare provides a safe, convenient, and quick outlet for getting gastritis treatment. Book an appointment today.


Read More About Gastritis


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

mayoclinic.org. Gastritis. Accessed on September 4, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gastritis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355813.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Treatment of heartburn and acid reflux associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Accessed on September 4, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821234/

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Gut Feelings About Gastritis. Accessed on September 4, 2020.  https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2012/11/gut-feelings-about-gastritis

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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