What is Gastritis?

Gastritis, a condition that involves the irritation and inflammation of the stomach, afflicts millions of people. Any number of things causing it, from injury to bacteria. In that respect, it is akin to a headache: It can strike anyone, and it can be caused by a wide variety of factors both internal and external, but what is gastritis exactly?

Many symptoms point to gastritis. Here are some of them.

– A burning pain similar to indigestion in your upper abdomen. In some people, the pain gets better after eating; in others, it gets worse.

– Nausea. A "sick-to-your-stomach" kind of feeling, which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting.

– Loss of appetite. This tend to go along with nausea, but many gastritis patients find they have no appetite even when they're not feeling nauseated. After a couple of mouthfuls they're done.

– Belching or bloating. This can simply be gas, but if it's chronic or severe, it could be caused by gastritis.

– Feeling particularly "full" in your upper abdomen after a meal.

– Unexplained weight loss. Of course, if you're feeling nauseated and lacking in appetite, the weight loss is to be expected.

Note that all of these symptoms are mild on their own, and all can indicate many other ailments, too. What you think could be gastritis might turn out to be heartburn, for example. Stomach flu and stomach ulcers also share some symptoms with gastritis. That's why it's necessary to be tested by a doctor to determine whether your ailment really is gastritis, or whether it's something else altogether.

Some gastritis sufferers suffer additional symptoms thought about by stomach bleeding. Gastritis is rarely severe enough to cause stomach bleeding, but it happens occasionally if the stomach lining has been penetrated. A bleeding stomach can cause you to vomit blood or to have black, tarry stools. If you have either of these symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately.

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Gastritis is generally preventable in the same way that most stomach-related ailments are preventable: by eating right and living a healthy lifestyle. Smoking, excess alcohol and caffeine can all damage your stomach lining and cause gastritis. Foods that are highly spiced or hard for you to digest should be avoided, too. In addition, some drugs, including simple over-the-counter aspirin, are irritating to the stomach lining. If possible avoid taking such drugs altogether if you know you have gastritis, or if you must take them, make sure it is only in moderation should they be necessary.

For temporary, mild gastritis, taking an antacid such as Maalox and Tylenol, then eating no solid foods for a day is often enough to solve it. This gives the stomach a chance to rest and recuperate. After a day of liquids only, add mild, bland food such as bananas, rice and toast to your diet. If the gastritis symptoms persist, however, it may be time to see a doctor. Hopefully this article answered the question what is gastritis.