13 Apr What is Gastritis? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Gastritis is a painful, debilitating condition that refers to a group of diseases. While there are different forms and types of gastritis, it always refers to inflammation of the stomach and its protective lining. In addition to inflammation, the stomach also becomes red and swollen, leading to many painful symptoms.
Gastritis can be either acute or chronic. A bout of acute gastritis is usually a one-time attack, but it can turn into a chronic condition if left treated. Gastritis can occur due to a bacterial infection, but environmental and lifestyle factors can also play a role.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re curious and want to know more about gastritis. We’ll look at the different things that can cause gastritis, the symptoms that result, how it’s diagnosed and treated, and much more. We’ll also look at what you can do to prevent gastritis using both medical and natural remedies.
Causes of Gastritis
There are many potential causes of gastritis. Some of these causes are completely preventable, while others may occur despite your best efforts of protection. Let’s take a look.
H. Pylori infection, helicobacter pylori infection, is a bacterial infection and the main cause of gastritis. This bacteria gets spread from one person to another through saliva and other bodily fluids and waste, and it’s also found in contaminated food and water sources.
While many people are carriers of H Pylori bacteria, very few develop gastritis or other conditions caused by the disease. However, if you develop gastritis as a result of this bacteria, your treatment, diagnosis method, and symptoms will be slightly different than gastritis from other causes.
- A burning sensation in the abdominal area and stomach
- Severe stomach pains and aches
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
There are several ways to determine if you have gastritis due to the H. Pylori bacteria. In most cases, doctors will take a stool sample from you and perform a stool or stool PCR test. They will check your stool for the presence of the incriminating bacteria and proceed accordingly. If stool tests are ineffective or inconclusive, they may also use a breath or scope test to check for H. Pylori bacteria.
As with most bacterial infections, antibiotics are the best way to treat gastritis caused by H. Pylori bacteria. However, antibiotics are only effective at treating gastritis caused by bacteria, which is why it’s so important to determine the cause of your condition before starting treatment.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Many over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Advil and Ibuprofen, can help temporarily relieve pain. However, these drugs can break down the lining of your stomach, which may lead to gastritis. Therefore, seeking alternatives to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief is important.
In the same way that NSAIDs can erode your protective stomach lining and lead to gastritis, so can alcohol consumption. Alcohol is very acidic and irritating and, over time, can break your stomach down from the inside. When this happens, digestive juices and acids start leaking into your stomach, resulting in gastritis.
Physical stress related to a recent injury, surgery, or procedure, as well as emotional stress, can both lead to stomach problems, which lead to gastritis. For that reason, it’s important to manage stress with meditation, exercise, healthy eating, and other methods.
Other Causes and Risk Factors
In addition to some of these more common causes of gastritis, there are also less common causes.
- Bile reflux
- Autoimmune disorders
- Digestive disorders
- Drug use
- Pernicious anemia
While anyone can get gastritis at one time or another, a few risk factors may increase your chances of developing the condition.
- Gastritis is more common in people who have stressful jobs.
- Gastritis is more common in older adults.
- People undergoing radiation, chemotherapy, and related cancer treatments are at higher risk.
Symptoms of Gastritis
Gastritis is a very uncomfortable condition. Therefore, most people will know if they have gastritis based on their physical symptoms. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms to look for based on the type of gastritis you have.
Acute gastritis is when you have a sudden bout with symptoms the first time. Here are some of the symptoms to watch out for.
- Pain in the abdomen
- A burning sensation in the stomach
- Intense stomach pain
- Lack of appetite and ensuing weight loss
- Irregular stool that’s dark and tarry
- Vomit and stool with blood present
- Being extra gassy
If you experience one or more of these symptoms in worsening degrees, it’s important to call your doctor immediately. Even if you don’t have gastritis, you could have another digestive condition that requires medical attention. These symptoms aren’t normal and are dangerous if you leave them unattended.
For the most part, the symptoms of chronic gastritis are identical to those of acute gastritis. The only difference is that you keep having them over and over again. Chronic gastritis can also occur because a one-time bout with gastritis has caused long-term damage to your stomach. As a result, you must receive ongoing treatment and management to keep the damage at bay.
As we said before, acute or chronic gastritis isn’t something you want to leave untreated. Failing to seek medical attention in the early stages of the condition can lead to additional pain and complications. This includes stomach ulcers, internal bleeding, or permanent damage to your stomach lining, which will lead to chronic gastritis.
Diagnosis of Gastritis
Now that you know how painful gastritis can be, let’s look at how your doctor will diagnose the condition. A diagnosis is necessary to determine the underlying cause of your gastritis so that you can receive the most effective treatment.
Here are some of the most common diagnostic tools and tests your healthcare provider may use.
Physical Examination and Health History
Your doctor’s appointment will start with a physical examination and complete health history. By evaluating your physical symptoms and asking questions about your background, your doctor can start to zero in on whether or not you have gastritis. If they suspect gastritis, your doctor will proceed to further testing to confirm their diagnosis.
These tests will also help determine the cause of your gastritis.
Upper GI Endoscopy
An upper GI endoscopy provides an in-depth look at your upper GI system and stomach to check for inflammation. Your doctor may also take a small tissue sample from your stomach to biopsy for the presence of bacteria and other anomalies.
Additional Imaging Tests
In addition to the upper GI endoscopy, there are other imaging tests your doctor may use when making a diagnosis. X-rays of your abdomen, MRIs, and CT scans may all be necessary to get a good look at your stomach and GI tract. Additional x-rays might also require you to swallow a barium solution as part of a barium swallow test. Barium amplifies x-ray images and helps your doctor see things more clearly.
A blood test is another way your doctor may check for gastritis. A blood test can show whether or not you have a low red blood cell count, which is an indicator of anemia. This test can also check for other types of anemia as well as the H. Pylori bacteria.
A stool sample test can indicate whether or not you have the H. Pylori bacteria. Additionally, if there’s blood in your stool, it’s a sign of internal bleeding. Alongside other test results, your doctor can narrow down the exact cause of your symptoms.
Finally, your doctor may also require a breath test. A breath urea test is where you swallow a capsule containing urea and then simply exhale. If you breathe out carbon dioxide atoms, it means that you may have the H. Pylori bacteria.
Treatment of Gastritis
In most cases, gastritis is very treatable, and most people make a full and lasting recovery. However, it’s important that you seek a proper diagnosis and immediate treatment to ensure the best outcome. Here are some of the most common treatment and management techniques to help treat gastritis and prevent future attacks.
The first step in treating gastritis is to get your symptoms under control. To do this, your doctor will likely use various medications and supplements.
Antacids help stop the production of stomach acid and give your digestive system time to heal.
Antibiotics help fight off the bacteria or virus that’s causing your gastritis.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors
Proton pump inhibitors are similar to antacids in that they help your body produce less stomach acid.
- Histamine Blockers
Finally, you may also need histamine blockers which further reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces.
Lifestyle Changes and Alternative Therapies
While medications are a great start to treating your gastritis, making lifestyle changes is important to avoid future attacks. Immediate lifestyle changes can also help treat gastritis and get you on the road to recovery.
- Start by limiting the number of NSAIDs and pain medications you use.
- Limit your alcohol consumption or stop drinking altogether.
- Switch to a less acidic diet by limiting certain foods such as red meat, coffee, and spicy foods.
- Never use tobacco products.
- If you struggle with acid reflux, consider taking medications to remedy the problem, as it could lead to gastritis.
- Find natural and healthy ways to deal with and reduce the amount of stress in your life.
- Take probiotics and herbal supplements that reduce acidity and increase your digestive health.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and switch to foods that are high in fiber.
- Healthy fruits and vegetables containing flavonoids are also beneficial for gastrointestinal health.
While it’s always best to take the path of least resistance when treating gastritis, medications, and natural remedies might not be enough. In those cases, you will need to consider surgery to make a full and lasting recovery. Surgery might be necessary to repair parts of your stomach and digestive system, but it is a last resort compared to the less invasive alternatives.
As you can see, gastritis is a painful condition that can lead to long-term complications when left untreated. In addition to stomach ulcers and digestive infections, gastritis can lead to various cancer forms. For that reason, it’s vital that you watch out for signs and symptoms of gastritis so that you can seek immediate diagnosis and treatment. More importantly, however, you should consider the lifestyle changes mentioned above to help prevent gastritis from developing in the first place.
Get Treated For Gastritis At Home With Concierge MD
If you have lingering gastritis symptoms, Concierge MD can help. You can make an appointment for one of our healthcare experts to come to your home and conduct a medical exam and consultation to fully understand the impact of your symptoms.
Our medical professional can perform a blood draw or prepare a stool sample for lab processing to determine the cause of your gastritis, so you can treat the root cause of the problem. Our team can prescribe the necessary medications and treatments necessary to help you get back to feeling your best self.
Concierge MD is proud to offer convenient, professional healthcare in the comfort and privacy of your home. Call or click today!