What is gastritis?
Your stomach is a powerful part of your digestive system. This organ contains a lining or inner layer that produces stomach acid and stomach enzymes. Your stomach uses these secretions along with strong stomach muscles to churn food and begin the digestion process.
Your stomach lining has a mucus coating to protect it from stomach acid, but if the mucus layer weakens or is attacked by infection, it can become irritated and inflamed. This inflammation is called gastritis.
Types of gastritis
Gastritis is a general term for inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can cause a lot of discomfort and make it feel like your stomach is full. It can also happen suddenly or it can develop slowly over time.
There are two main categories of gastritis, erosive and non-erosive.
Erosive gastritis, also called reactive gastritis, causes inflammation of your stomach lining while wearing away or eroding the lining itself. Erosive gastritis can lead to breaks in the lining or painful ulcers, and it can occur as acute or chronic gastritis. The most common types of erosive gastritis are acute stress gastritis, acute erosive gastritis, and radiation gastritis.
Non-erosive gastritis causes inflammation but it doesn't erode the stomach lining. In some cases, it can lead to peptic ulcers. The most common types of non-erosive gastritis are Helicobacter pylori gastritis, autoimmune gastritis, and atrophic gastritis.
Symptoms of gastritis
There are several symptoms of gastritis, depending on the type. The most common symptoms that you may experience include:
Causes of gastritis
Gastritis is often caused by bacterial infection with Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori). It can also be caused by smoking, overuse of alcohol, long-term use of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or severe injury. Gastritis is sometimes an autoimmune condition that attacks the cells of your stomach lining.
Who can get gastritis?
Gastritis can affect men and women equally. It is more common in adults older than 60 and often appears as Helicobacter pylori gastritis, the most common type of gastritis.
You may be more at risk for reactive gastritis if you drink heavily, take NSAIDs, or smoke cigarettes.
Treatments for gastritis
There are several treatments for gastritis, and they depend on the type of gastritis you have, your age, the severity of your gastritis, and whether you have other medical conditions.
H. pylori infections are the most common cause of gastritis. If your diagnostic tests show this infection, you will receive antibiotics to kill the bacteria, and you will likely receive proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications to reduce stomach acid. You may receive two antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and clarithromycin, along with the PPI medication. This is called triple therapy to help prevent the H. pylori bacteria from returning.
Your doctor may recommend antacids and over-the-counter acid reducers to help reduce stomach acid and allow your stomach lining to heal. If your gastritis is due to an underlying condition, you will receive treatment to help that condition as well.
Foods for a gastritis diet
Sometimes, certain foods can cause irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining. To help your stomach heal and to reduce your chances of getting gastritis again, you should try a stomach-healthy diet.
- Fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids, such as apples, celery, cranberries, onions, garlic, may prevent the growth of H. pylori
- Antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, like squash, bell peppers, blueberries, and cherries
- Foods high in calcium and vitamin B, including beans, spinach, kale, almonds, and whole grains
- Healthy oils, such as olive oil
- Lean protein, like cold-water fish, beans, or tofu
Avoid food that can irritate and erode the stomach lining:
Risks and outlook for gastritis
Most cases of gastritis go away with treatment, but chronic cases can develop into serious conditions such as:
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Merck Manual: "Gastritis."
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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Definition & Facts for Gastritis & Gastropathy."
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