What is gastritis?
Gastritis is a redness and inflammation of the lining of the stomach either new (acute) or chronic. It means that white blood cells move into the wall of the stomach as a response to some type of injury. Gastritis does not mean that there is an ulcer or cancer.
What causes gastritis?
Gastritis is caused by an irritation or infection in the stomach. Irritation can be caused by:
- Acid in your stomach helping grind down food for digestion
- Medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)- ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil
- Alcohol in large doses (alcohol stimulates the stomach to make acid)
- A bacteria named Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) that has learned to live in the thick mucous lining of the stomach. This infection could lead to ulcers but can be cured with antibiotics.
What are the symptoms of gastritis?
Some people have no symptoms. Others may have some symptoms of acute pain or gnawing in the stomach, nausea and vomiting. Some with chronic inflammation may have a dull pain, loss of appetite and feeling of fullness. Please call your doctor if your symptoms get worse.
How is gastritis treated?
Treatment of gastritis depends on its cause. During your upper endoscopy, a biopsy, or a small sample of the stomach tissue, was removed and sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope to determine an exact cause.
For most types of gastritis reducing the stomach acid is helpful. Many times medication that blocks the stomach from producing acid is recommended.
Stop the use of aspirin, NSAIDs or alcohol if they are causing problems.
If a diagnosis of H. pylori is made your doctor will want you to take a course of antibiotics.
For people with symptoms general guidelines to reduce stomach acid are:
- Avoid foods that increase reflux of acid into the esophagus like greasy, spicy and fatty foods, citrus, chocolate, onion, tomato sauces and peppermint
- Avoid alcoholic drinks and caffeine products.
- Avoid large meals, eat slowly, and eat 4 to 5 small meals a day.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not eat anything for at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Do not bend over or lie down immediately after eating.
- Avoid tight fitting pants, belts, and undergarments.
- Lose weight if overweight.
- Do not strain during bowel movements, urination, or lifting.
- Raise the head of your bed 4-6 inches with wooden blocks or bricks. Gravity then helps keep stomach acid out of the esophagus while sleeping.
What is the prognosis for gastritis?
Gastritis by itself is rarely a serious problem. With proper treatment, eliminating the infection and measures to reduce stomach acid often cures gastritis. Your doctor will let you know your treatment plan based on your biopsy results.