14 May How to Treat Atrophic Gastritis
Atrophic gastritis (AG) is a chronic illness that causes the lining of your stomach to become inflamed and thinner than normal. It also causes the cells in your stomach lining to mimic the cells in your intestines.
Since chronic atrophic gastritis can lead to the development of stomach cancer,1 along with benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the stomach, it’s important to get diagnosed and seek treatment promptly.
What is Atrophic Gastritis?
There are two types of atrophic gastritis: environmental metaplastic atrophic gastritis (EMAG) and autoimmune atrophic gastritis (AAG).
EMAG is often caused by chronic infections of H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) bacteria, which negatively affects the mucus meant to protect your stomach lining from the acids released when you digest food.
Signs and symptoms of atrophic gastritis caused by H. pylori include:
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Loss of appetite
- Peptic ulcers
- Unexplained weight loss
- Upper abdominal pain
AAG develops when your immune system attacks the cells of your stomach lining.
It is possible to have environmental or autoimmune atrophic gastritis and not experience any signs or symptoms.
If you have AAG and it causes a vitamin B12 deficiency, you may experience symptoms of anemia and nerve damage, including:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Mental confusion
- Numbness in your limbs
- Pale skin
- Rapid pulse
- Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
- Tingling in your limbs
Because both EMAG and AAG can cause stomach cancer, it is vital to treat the condition and any underlying causes.
Medical Treatment for Atrophic Gastritis
Several treatments are available for atrophic gastritis, including medications, treatments for underlying causes of atrophic gastritis, and surgical procedures.
Medications used to Treat Atrophic Gastritis
Antibiotics are used when atrophic gastritis is caused by H. pylori. Medications that reduce the amount of stomach acid produced during digestion can help decrease inflammation and allow the cells in your stomach lining to heal.
Autoimmune atrophic gastritis is usually treated with vitamin B12 injections and iron supplementation to correct any vitamin B12 or iron deficiency.
Treatment Options for Underlying Causes
Because atrophic gastritis can be caused by a bacterial infection or vitamin or mineral deficiency, treating these conditions will help resolve atrophic gastritis. Antibiotics can help combat bacterial infections while supplements and IV infusions can help correct vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
You may need surgery if your atrophic gastritis causes stomach cancer or benign tumors.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Atrophic Gastritis
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to treat atrophic gastritis.
The following foods and drinks may help reduce symptoms of atrophic gastritis:
- High-fiber foods: beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Low-acidity foods: beans and vegetables
- Low-fat foods: fish, lean meats, and vegetables
- Caffeine-free drinks
- Non-carbonated drinks
Probiotic foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, and yogurt can be beneficial when you have an H. pylori infection.
Certain foods can exacerbate atrophic gastritis symptoms. Foods and drinks to avoid include:
- Acidic foods, such as tomatoes and some fruits
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Pickled foods
- Spicy foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Fruit juices
Avoiding Alcohol and Smoking
Consuming alcohol too often or drinking too much alcohol in a short period can worsen atrophic gastritis symptoms. Smoking can also make the condition worse.2
Stress Management Techniques
Stress3 can also induce or worsen atrophic gastritis. For this reason, it is important to learn stress management techniques such as engaging in psychotherapy and practicing meditation.
Getting regular exercise can also help you manage symptoms of atrophic gastritis; plus, it is beneficial to your overall physical and mental health.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies
You may also want to try herbal remedies. For instance, chamomile tea can help in some cases.
Eating probiotic foods like kimchi and yogurt can help combat an H. pylori infection. Acupuncture4 can also be used to treat atrophic gastritis.
Prevention and Maintenance
Because EMAG can be caused by H. pylori infection, you can lower your risk of contracting H. pylori by washing your hands each time you use the bathroom and practicing other good hygiene habits.
As we discussed previously, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you manage symptoms. A healthy lifestyle includes eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, minimizing alcohol consumption, and avoiding smoking.
Follow-up and ongoing monitoring are crucial to help prevent atrophic gastritis from developing into stomach cancer.
Atrophic gastritis must be treated to reduce the risk of developing into stomach cancer or benign tumors later on. As we have discussed, there are ways to prevent and treat atrophic gastritis, including treating underlying causes and complications such as H. pylori infection and vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies.
If you are experiencing atrophic gastritis symptoms, talk to your doctor. They will be able to determine the cause of your atrophic gastritis and recommend the best treatments for your situation.
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