21 Apr How to Treat Chronic or Acute Gastritis
Gastritis is a condition where the stomach lining becomes inflamed, leading to many uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, indigestion, and nausea. Not only can leaving gastritis untreated cause significant discomfort, but it could also lead to a stomach ulcer or an increased risk of stomach cancer.
Let’s take a closer look at understanding gastritis and the treatment options available.
First, it’s important to understand that there are two types of gastritis: chronic and acute. Chronic gastritis describes the condition that develops slowly over time, and acute is when the condition appears suddenly. Both types of gastritis have similar symptoms and respond to similar treatments. However, acute gastritis can clear up in a matter of days, while chronic gastritis may take months or years to fully heal. Typically, they both respond well to medications that reduce stomach acid as well as making necessary lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking or limiting alcohol consumption.
Causes and Risk Factors
While anybody can get gastritis, there are certain causes and risk factors that may make it more likely. Some of the risk factors are within your control, and others may not be.
Some of those causes and risk factors include:
Bacterial infection: H. Pylori is one of the most common types of bacterial infection, but only some people with the infection actually develop gastritis. There may be a genetic component to your vulnerability of getting the infection, but other factors such as smoking or poor diet could also be factors.
Ongoing use of pain relievers: The ongoing use of pain relievers, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can reduce the substance that protects the lining of the stomach, which can result in acute or chronic gastritis.
Excessive alcohol consumption: Alcohol can irritate and erode the stomach lining and is more often linked with acute gastritis.
Stress: Severe stress can sometimes cause gastritis.
Older age: The stomach lining naturally starts to thin as we age, which may make people more prone to gastritis. Additionally, older people are more susceptible to H. Pylori infection, which could also lead to gastritis.
Cancer treatments: Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation can increase the risk of developing gastritis.
Understanding the cause of your gastritis can go a long way toward helping you find the best solution for treatment. In some instances, it may require you to simply stop a certain behavior.
Symptoms of Gastritis
Gastritis symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. The cause of your gastritis may also determine what type of symptoms you experience.
Common symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
- Burning sensation in the stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Black, tarry stools
As you can see, the symptoms listed here can certainly make it difficult to function normally. Because the symptoms are often associated with other conditions, it may take some time to determine that you’re suffering from gastritis. It’s important to make a note of your symptoms and when they start to help your doctor make a proper diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Gastritis
Getting a diagnosis as soon as possible is important to start proper treatment. First, your doctor will conduct a full physical evaluation and review your medical history. Your doctor may ask questions about your diet, lifestyle, and other medical conditions.
Next, they may suggest further testing for gastritis, including:
- Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or barium swallow. This is an x-ray of the organs located at the top part of the digestive system. You may be asked to swallow barium so that the entire area can be seen effectively on the x-ray.
- Upper endoscopy (EGD). This test also looks at the inside of your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine. However, instead of an x-ray, it uses an endoscope that is placed down the mouth and throat.
- Blood tests. Blood tests may be done to determine the type of bacteria in your stomach, and also other tests that check for anemia or vitamin levels to rule out other issues.
- Stool sample. A stool sample test checks to see if the stomach has any bacteria that can cause gastritis, and a different type of stool test checks for blood in the stool.
- Breath test. A breath test may be used to determine if you have stomach bacteria.
The tests help rule out other conditions and narrow down what is the likely cause of your symptoms.
Treating Acute Gastritis
Acute gastritis is a sudden onset of inflammation in the stomach lining. People may feel as though their symptoms came out of nowhere.
To effectively treat acute gastritis, you may consider the following:
- Resting the stomach and your body by getting plenty of rest.
- Avoid irritants and triggers such as certain foods or stressful situations.
- Consider taking medications for pain relief and inflammation reduction.
- If your gastritis is brought on by H. pylori infection, then reach out to your doctor for antibiotics.
- Following an anti-inflammatory diet means avoiding foods that may cause inflammation, such as spicy, sugary, or fatty foods.
- If you notice that you have stomach issues but are unsure of your triggers, create a food diary to narrow it down.
- Taking a garlic supplement may help with symptoms of gastritis caused by H. pylori.
- Consuming a probiotic, such as yogurt or kimchi, can help introduce good bacteria into the stomach.
- Quit smoking, as smoking can damage the stomach lining.
Treating Chronic Gastritis
Chronic gastritis develops over time, and you may notice mild symptoms at first that can become severe later on. First, you want to determine any underlying causes that may contribute to having gastritis, such as evaluating your diet, knowing if you have any other infections, or if stress may be a contributing factor. Consider taking medications that protect your stomach lining and reduce acid production. If you know that H.pylori is the cause of your gastritis, then you may need to take antibiotics to clear it up.
Specifically, your doctor may suggest the following:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be needed to treat bacterial infections that cause gastritis. You should expect to take the antibiotics for one to two weeks.
- Antacids: Antacids such as Tums or Rolaids may be used to help soothe the stomach and can also reduce heartburn.
- Histamine (H2) blockers: In some cases, histamine blockers may be suggested to help reduce the production of stomach acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors: These types of medication also reduce the amount of stomach acid you have and can also treat stomach ulcers.
As mentioned in the acute gastritis section, you can also make lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of developing gastritis.
You can help prevent gastritis by taking steps to reduce the occurrence of heartburn and indigestion, which are often linked to gastritis.
Consider the following tips:
- Avoid foods that may cause heartburn and indigestion, such as spicy, acidic, or fatty foods
- Reduce caffeine consumption
- Eat smaller meals
- Reduce and manage stress
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Avoid lying down for two or three hours following a meal
In addition to avoiding heartburn and indigestion, you should also prevent your risk of H. pylori infection. Many people are unaware they are infected, but it is incredibly infectious. To reduce the spread of H. pylori, make sure to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands.
Gastritis is a common and treatable condition. However, it can be quite painful and possibly lead to other health issues, so you should never ignore sudden symptoms or symptoms that linger. This condition can certainly impact your ability to participate in regular activities, and proper diagnosis and treatment are necessary for you to get back to feeling your best.
It’s important that you know to make the necessary lifestyle changes to lower your risk of gastritis. If you suspect that you may have gastritis, reach out to your doctor to learn more about this condition and see your treatment options.
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!