Gastritis is the inflammation in the lining of the stomach which can be caused by a number of conditions. The stomach contains a layer of mucus that helps to protect the stomach walls or lining from the acid and other fluids that are used to digest foods. When this layer of mucus becomes damaged or weakened, the stomach wall or lining is then exposed to the acid which causes it to become inflamed.
Gastritis can be either acute or chronic. Acute gastritis is when the inflammation of the stomach lining occurs suddenly and is severe. Chronic gastritis is when the condition develops gradually and an individual may have chronic gastritis for years without experiencing any symptoms.
Symptoms of Gastritis
When an individual develops acute gastritis they are most likely to experience a sudden burning pain in the area of the upper abdomen along with nausea. Individuals who have chronic gastritis may not experience any noticeable symptoms at all or have symptoms that begin to occur gradually as a dull aching pain, a loss of appetite, or a feeling of fullness after taking just a few bites of food.
Gastritis may also cause weight loss, vomiting, bloating, and belching. In rare cases, bleeding may occur in the stomach that will be noticeable in vomit or after a bowel movement with stools that appear black and tarry.
Causes Associated with Gastritis
The most common cause of chronic gastritis is the Helicobacter pylori bacterium or H.pylori. H.pylori is an extremely common bacterium that is passed from person to person and it is estimated that over half of the entire population is infected with H.pyori; however, this bacterium typically does not cause any problems or complications in the majority of individuals.
It is not known why this bacterium causes complications in some individuals but not others. It is thought that people may be more susceptible to H.pylori due to inheritance or lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive levels of stress.
Both acute and chronic gastritis can occur due to the regular use of pain relievers called NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include "Advil", "Motrin", and "Aleve".
Using these drugs only occasionally will reduce the chances of developing gastritis. The excessive consumption of alcohol can also cause gastritis and is commonly associated with acute cases. Severe burns, major surgery, critical illness, and traumatic injuries are also associated with the development of gastritis in some individuals.
Treatment of Gastritis
Treatment for gastritis depends on the type of gastritis and its cause. In some cases such as gastritis that is caused by alcohol or NSAIDs, when these substances are eliminated the gastritis may go away on its own. When the cause of the gastritis is infection by the H.pylori bacterium, the patient is treated with antibiotics in order to destroy the bacterium.
All cases of gastritis are typically treated with antacid medications to reduce the stomach acid in combination with any medications prescribed to treat the undering cause. While many types of gastritis can be controlled with over-the-counter remedies , if you are experiencing any severe symptoms or any bleeding – no matter how small the amount – when vomiting or in stools, it is essential that you contact your physician as soon as possible for a medical evaluation.