All You Need to Know About Gastritis – Guarding Your Gut Is not Easy As You Think

I've had it happen to me too many times and trust me … it's not your normal stomach ache that you can handle after having too much dinner. The agony is real and sometimes even your closest folks at home will not be able to understand what's going on with you and mistake it for just the traditional gas pain.

It's even tougher if along with it, you also have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or acid reflux and ulcers. But that's another story.

Gastritis in itself is an irritation of the stomach often thought about by medications, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, spicy, acidic or fatty food, skipping of meals and emotional stress. Its other name is Acid Peptic Disease.

When I was first diagnosed with it, I have to admit I denied the "emotional stress" part, but after further research, I did link it to my condition. I learned that stress does not need cause gastritis, but it can put you in a position where the acid levels of your body are increased. Stress can put a physical strain on the human body, making it more difficult to heal it with medication or as much as possible, naturally.

The symptoms of gastritis include stomach pain concentrated at the upper part of the abdomen (usually felt as a crampy, spastic or burning sensation), nausea, indigestion and vomiting.

If you have chronic or recurring gastritis and ulcers, you may want to get yourself checked for H.pylori bacteria. This is normally done via an endoscopy procedure. People who have this bacteria go through special tests and potentially antibiotic treatment to cure their condition. In my case, I did not have the bacteria but still had gastritis along with a weak esophageal sphincter causing GERD and heartburn.

Medication used to treat gastritis are the same as that for ulcers and acid reflux. Antacids such as Tums and Gaviscon, acid blocking drugs (proton pump inhibitors) such as Prevacid, Zantac and Nexium, and pre-motility agents such as Motilium and Ganaton. There are other brands and dosages so be sure to check with your physician on your recommended amount.

Here's a red flag you should know. Avoid taking aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Mefenamic acid and Naproxen as all these can be highly irritating on the stomach. Of course, this is quite a challenge especially if you have body pains and headaches and want immediate relief. Consult with your doctor on this.

In the course of your treatment, stay away from spicy, acidic and fatty foods. Avoid alcoholic and acidic beverages along with fruit juices. Sodas, chocolates, coffee, tea, and dairy products are a big no-no. It takes discipline to do this and I've had more than my fair share of violations and painful consequences. During this period, it's best to have a list of foods you can eat and consult a nutritionist on how you can maintain a healthy diet without drastically losing weight (often an outcome of gastritis). Be sure to stick to it and do not skip your meals. And again, learn to manage emotional stress.

One last note. I have nothing against conventional medication as long as it's in emergency situations or just for a short period of time. For long-term treatment however, it's best to go natural. Simply popping up pills or gulping on a liquid antacid every time you have an attack is nothing but a band-aid approach to the root problem. Why do that if you can trace the main cause, eliminate it and become gastritis free?