An inflammation of the stomach lining, gastritis is usually signaled by indigestion, either with or without bleeding in the digestive tract. Acute gastritis, often develops when people are subjected to sudden stress, such as from intense burns or other severe injury or illness; it may also develop after surgery, leading to stress ulcers and severe intestinal bleeding.
Gastritis is more common with age and most sufferers complain of indigestion. Other people have no noticeable symptoms, which can be dangerous if gastritis is caused by erosion of the stomach lining with bleeding-normally a result of aspirin or other medication. Usually, people with acute gastritis caused by illness or injury have already been hospitalized for treatment of their underlying condition; therefore, symptoms of gastritis are managed in the course of their intensive care.
Chronic inflammation can occur with long-term use of certain medications (such as aspirin and arthritis drugs), gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease, alcoholism, or viral infections. It has recently been discovered that many cases of gastritis are caused by a bacterium, Helicobacter pylon. This organism has also been linked to peptic ulcers and is the only germ currently known to be able to survive in the acidic environment of the human stomach.
Although foods are not the cause of gastritis, people with symptoms should avoid spicy or highly acidic foods, which can irritate the stomach lining. They should also avoid fatty foods, tomato-based products, chocolate, beverages containing caffeine, decaffeinated tea and coffee, peppermint, and alcohol. These foods relax the valve between the stomach and esophagus and make it easier for the stomach contents to back up into the esophagus, causing further irritation.