Your stomach comprises a protective layer, the mucosa. This lining is responsible for protecting your stomach from the strong acid that helps in digesting food. In case this protective lining grows weak, the mucosa suffers from inflammation.
Gastritis causes inflammation in the stomach’s protective lining, and it’s a prevalent disease among adults.
Gastritis may be of two types; acute and chronic. If you’re experiencing symptoms similar to gastritis, it’s always a good idea to understand what gastritis is. Here, we discuss how common gastritis is and when you should visit a doctor:
What is the Difference Between Indigestion and Gastritis?
Gastritis symptoms often resemble indigestion and GERD symptoms.
Keep in mind that indigestion is discomfort or pain in your stomach due to difficulty when digesting food. Typically, indigestion, otherwise known as dyspepsia, causes a burning feeling in your lower ribs.
On the other hand, gastritis causes pain along your stomach lining and abdomen.
When to Visit a Doctor?
Almost everyone suffers from stomach problems like indigestion and stomach irritation every once in a while. In most cases, indigestion is temporary and requires no medical care.
However, if symptoms of gastritis persist for longer than a week, consider connecting with your doctor. Make sure to discuss with your doctor if over-the-counter drugs and pain relievers don’t help.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
- Black stools
- Blood in your stools
- Uncontrolled GERD
- Vomit blood
How Common is Gastritis?
According to research, acute gastritis affects an estimated 8 out of every 1,000 people. At the same time, long-term gastritis affects almost 2 out of every 10,000 people.
Lastly, insightful research reveals that autoimmune gastritis is more common in people suffering from autoimmune disorders like Addison’s disease and type 1 diabetes.
What are the Causes of Gastritis?
Gastritis may develop due to irritation due to smoking, excessive alcohol intake, chronic vomiting, stress, and use of OTC’s and anti-inflammatory doctors. Let’s discuss what the various causes of gastritis are:
- A backflow of bile, also known as bile reflux
- Autoimmune disorders like pernicious anemia, type 1 diabetes, and so on
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating or drinking a corrosive or caustic substance like poisons
- Erosion of your stomach’s protective line
- Helicobacter Pylori, bacteria that lives inside your stomach’s protective lining, may cause gastritis. If left untreated, it may lead to ulcers or stomach cancer.
- Increased secretion of gastric acid
- Intake of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen
- Stress may cause excess gastric acid secretion
- Various infections caused by dangerous bacteria
- Viral infections in people with comparatively weak immune systems
Signs and Symptoms of Gastritis
Some people suffering from gastritis don’t experience any symptoms. At the same time, symptoms and signs of acute and chronic gastritis may vary from patient to patient.
The prevalent signs and symptoms of gastritis are:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Black and tarry stools
- Blood in your stools
- Burning feeling in your stomach during the nighttime or between meals
- Feeling a certain fullness in your upper abdomen area after eating
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent upset stomach
- Stomach Ulcers
- Vomiting blood or a coffee ground-like material
What are the Risk Factors?
Let’s discuss some of the factors that increase your risk of developing gastritis:
- Excessive intake of alcohol may irritate your stomach’s protective lining. It often leads to acute gastritis.
- The stomach lining tends to thin in older people. As a result, they have a higher chance of suffering from this condition.
- Other diseases and medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and parasitic infections can increase the risk of developing gastritis.
- Regular use of over-the-counter drugs and pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin can cause gastritis as well.
- Severe stress from injury, a major surgery, or severe infections may also cause gastritis.
- In autoimmune gastritis, your body ends up attacking the cells forming the stomach lining. It leads to damage and the weakening of your protective barrier.
- Vulnerability to Helicobacter Pylori can lead to gastritis.
Gastritis can lead to several severe medical conditions; therefore, you must contact your doctor instantly. Here we discuss potential complications of the disease:
- Helicobacter Pylori can cause stomach ulcers and gastritis that bleed. It can lower your red blood by a considerable amount and cause anemia.
- Autoimmune Gastritis can have a significant impact on your body’s vitamin B12 absorbing abilities. People who lack an appropriate amount of B12 may develop pernicious anemia.
- Gastritis is known to worsen stomach ulcers. In case your ulcers damage your stomach wall, they may break through and reach your abdomen. This rupture can cause a severe infection known as peritonitis and lead to inflammation, called ‘sepsis,’ which could be fatal.
- Gastritis that develops due to autoimmune diseases or Helicobacter Pylori can lead to excessive growths in your stomach lining. In some cases, it can develop stomach cancer.
Is Gastritis Contagious?
The condition of gastritis itself isn’t contagious; however, the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori can spread.
To avoid its spread, make sure you practice proper hygiene, proper sanitation and eat thoroughly cooked food.
How Is Gastritis Diagnosed?
To diagnose gastritis, your doctor will ask you to provide your family and personal medical history. In addition, they will perform an in-depth physical evaluation and recommend the following tests:
Your doctor may conduct several blood tests like checking your RBC count to ensure if you have anemia.
They may also determine whether you have pernicious anemia or Helicobacter Pylori with the help of blood tests.
An oral or breath test is a fantastic way of determining whether you have the H. pylori bacterium or not.
Fecal Occult Blood Test
Otherwise known as a stool test, a fecal occult blood test detects the presence of blood in your stools.
In an upper endoscopy, your doctor uses an endoscope, a thin tube alongside a tiny camera. Your doctor will insert the line through your mouth and into your stomach.
This way, they can check for inflammation in your stomach lining. In addition, your doctor may perform a biopsy and send a sample of your tissue to the lab for an in-depth analysis.
Otherwise referred to as an upper gastrointestinal series or a barium swallow, your doctor performs various x-rays of your digestive system.
It may include images of your esophagus, small intestines, and stomach to spot potential risks and abnormalities. Your doctor may request you swallow a white, metallic liquid, i.e., barium, to make the ulcer visible.
Who Might Get Gastritis?
The risk of developing gastritis increases with your age. Older people have comparatively thinner stomach linings, a slower metabolism, decreased circulations, and slow mucosal repair.
Plus, older people are comparatively more likely to seek NSAIDs. It can harm your stomach’s protective lining and cause gastritis.
Lastly, people suffering from Helicobacter Pylori may also develop gastritis. In the U.S., H. Pylori is common among older adults and people in the lower socio-economic groups.
What are the Treatment Plans for Gastritis?
The treatment of gastritis mostly depends on the underlying cause of gastritis. For instance, acute gastritis that develops due to anti-inflammatory drugs or alcohol may reduce once you stop using those substances.
Antibiotic Medications to Kill Helicobacter Pylori
To kill H. pylori present in your digestive tract, your doctor may recommend you intake a combination of antibiotics. Make sure you follow the prescription correctly.
Medications to Block Acid Production
Various proton pump inhibitors help reduce the production of acid. It is done by blocking the action of cells that enhance acid production.
Keep in mind that excessive use of a proton pump inhibitor may increase risks of developing spine, wrist, and hip fractures.
Medications to Reduce Acid Production
Otherwise known as acid blockers and histamine (H-2) blockers, these medicines help reduce the amount of acid present in your digestive tract. It can help alleviate gastritis pain, as well as encourage healing.
For this reason, your doctor may prescribe various over-the-counter acid blockers.
Antacids that Neutralize Stomach Acid
Depending on the severity and types of gastritis you suffer from, your doctor may include antacids in your treatment plan.
These can help neutralize stomach acid and ensure pain relief. However, keep in mind that antacids have some side effects like diarrhea and constipation.
What is the Best Treatment for Gastritis?
Treatment plans for gastritis and their level of success typically depend on its cause. In most cases, your doctor will prescribe over-the-counter and prescription medicines to alleviate pain and reduce acidity.
Another great way to ensure symptom relief is by avoiding hot, friend, and spicy food and avoiding alcohol and smoking.
Gastritis may be preventable if the underlying cause is also preventable. Here are several ways you can avoid gastritis:
- Avoid any situation where you can ingest radiations, toxins, and chemicals
- Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, and taking NSAIDs if they trigger your gastritis
- Eating smaller meals
- Managing stress
- Most doctors believe that H. pylori is contagious and spread through contaminated water and good. One way to protect yourself from this bacteria is by washing your hands frequently and eating thoroughly cooked food.
Living with Gastritis
Research by NIDDK shows that your diet and nutrition don’t play a critical role in causing gastritis.
However, in rare cases, foods, supplements, and liquids may play a substantial role. For instance, if smoking and excessive drinking or iron supplements cause acute gastritis, you may have to stop taking them to cure gastritis.
Several foods and beverages can trigger inflammation, heartburn and increase acid production. Consider avoiding such foods to reduce the production of acids and heartburn.
Exercise and Gastritis
According to multiple types of research, there are some positive and negative links between exercise and gastritis.
Experts do not advise patients to exercise to prevent gastritis or limit its effects. Furthermore, they believe that neither exercise nor weight loss can alleviate symptoms of gastritis. Plus, prolonged endurance exercises can boost the risk of gastritis.
On a more positive note, research by Sports Medicine reveals that moderate exercise can reduce the risks of ulcers by decreasing gastric secretions.
Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies to Reduce Gastritis
While in most cases you’ll have to seek the help of a professional, there are instances where you can use home remedies to treat gastritis. Here are a couple of lifestyle changes and home remedies you can try to combat gastritis:
Following an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Gastritis is characterized by inflammation of your stomach’s lining. Therefore, consuming foods and beverages that help minimize inflammation can help provide pain relief.
Consider keeping a food diary to note down which foods trigger gastritis and inflammation. This way, you can stop or reduce consuming those foods and liquids.
Major food types that can cause inflammation are as follows:
- Acidic foods
- Dairy products
- Spicy foods
- Sugary foods
- Processed meals
Avoid and Manage Stress
Emotional and mental stress levels may also trigger various digestive conditions. In fact, insightful research by the ADAA reveals that stress can cause symptoms and conditions like peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
Furthermore, you can reduce the risk of developing gastritis by adopting healthy and stress-relieving lifestyle changes. For this reason, you should consider trying meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and improving your schedule.
According to research, up to 50% of people globally suffer from H. pylori, aka the bacteria that causes bacteria.
Another research shows that intaking garlic extract is a great way to kill the bacterium present in your stomach lining.
For this, all you have to do is crush raw garlic and consume the extract with the help of a teaspoon.
Green Tea with Manuka Honey
An insightful study reveals that drinking green tea or black tea every week can help reduce the prevalence of H. pylori in your stomach’s lining.
At the same time, manuka honey boasts antibacterial properties that help you fight bacteria and infections. Some people may even drink warm water to alleviate symptoms and ensure proper digestion.
Researches reveal that essential oils have a profound effect on the growth of the H. pylori bacterium. In fact, an in-depth study on essential oils derived from lemon verbena and lemongrass had a positive impact on resisting H. pylori colonization.
Remember that the U.S. FDA does not test essential oils for human consumption. Avoid consuming them since some are toxic as well. You should either inhale these by mixing them in a carrier oil or adding in a diffuser.
Gastritis can cause several severe medical conditions like stomach cancer and anemia. Therefore, you must pay attention to your lifestyle choices.
Try to lose weight if your doctor recommends it. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol to alleviate symptoms of gastritis.
Moreover, avoid using pain relievers and over-the-counter drugs, including ibuprofen and aspirin. This way, you can prevent further damage that causes your stomach’s protective lining to grow thinner.
Many probiotics can help boost digestion and bowel movements. Probiotic supplements introduce good bacteria in your digestive tract to stop the prevalence of H. pylori bacterium.
Eating certain foods that are rich in probiotics can provide relief from symptoms of gastritis. Some of these foods are as follows:
If you have a difficult time with constipation while consuming probiotics, it might be worth it to add a colon cleanse. Typically these supplements and medications are rough on the stomach but Natural Colon is a natural and gentle formula.
The Bottom Line
In most cases, gastritis improves rapidly with the help of treatment. Most people use prescribed medicines to reduce symptoms of gastritis.
Depending on what’s causing your gastritis, your doctor will recommend various treatment plans. Follow our guide to introduce healthy changes to your lifestyle to relieve symptoms of gastritis.