What is gastritis?
Gastritis is an umbrella term that encompasses a group of conditions that have one thing in common – inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis is often caused by infection with the same bacteria that cause most stomach ulcers. Regular use of some pain relievers and drinking a lot of alcohol can also contribute to gastritis.
The occurrence of gastritis may be sudden and acute or slow and chronic. In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers and increase the risk of stomach cancer. However, gastritis is not considered dangerous for most patients, and it improves quickly with treatment.
What are the risk factors of gastritis?
- Bacterial infection
- Regular use of pain relievers
- Old age
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Your body is attacking the cells of your stomach
How to diagnose gastritis?
- Tests to detect Helicobacter pylori. Your doctor may recommend tests to check for the presence of Helicobacter pylori in your body. Infection with H. pylori can be detected by blood, stool, or breath tests.
- Upper endoscopy. During an endoscopy, your doctor passes a flexible tube with a camera at its tip down your throat and into your esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Using an endoscope, the doctor will look for any signs of infection.
- X-ray of the upper digestive system. This x-ray procedure takes pictures of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine to look for any abnormalities. To make the ulcer more pronounced, you may be asked to swallow a white-colored liquid (containing barium), which will cover your digestive tract.
How to treat gastritis?
Treatment for gastritis depends on the cause. You may relieve acute gastritis caused by anti-inflammatory drugs or alcohol by stopping the use of these substances.
Medicines used to treat gastritis include:
Antibiotics to eliminate Helicobacter pylori
Your doctor may recommend a combination of antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. Make sure to take the full amount of antibiotic prescribed, usually for 7 to 14 days.
Medicines that block acid production and stimulate healing
Proton pump inhibitors reduce stomach acid by inhibiting the activity of the acid-producing cell parts.
Medicines to Reduce Acid Production
Acid blockers, also called histamine blockers, reduce the amount of stomach acid released into the digestive tract, soothing gastritis pain and stimulating healing.
Antacids that neutralize stomach acid
Antacids neutralize existing stomach acid and can quickly relieve pain. Side effects may include constipation or diarrhea, depending on the main ingredients of the medication.