Gastritis

General Illness Information


Medical Term:

GASTRITIS

Common Name: None Specified

Description: Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach.

The lining of the stomach is remarkably resistant to injury from the acid and the digestive enzymes. Nevertheless, the stomach lining  can sometimes become irritated and inflamed.

Causes: There are numerous causes for gastritis and these are listed below:

  1. Medications like ASA and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and steroids- this type of gastritis develops slowly, in otherwise healthy people, presenting with bleeding or ulcers. Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine can also cause gastritis;
  2. Stress due to severe illness- this is the most severe type of gastritis. This may occur e.g. after a severe burn and injuries;
  3. Bacterial infection- commonly results from an infection by Helicobacter pylori (bacteria that grow in the mucus secreting cells of the stomach lining). No other bacteria are known to grow in the normally acidic stomach, but many types of bacteria may grow if the stomach does not produce acid;
  4. Viral or fungal infections- may develop in people with a prolonged illness or impaired immune system;
  5. Atrophic gastritis- results when antibodies attack the stomach lining, causing it to become very thin and also causes destruction of cells that produce acid and enzymes. This condition usually affects the elderly and those who have had partial gastrectomy (a procedure in which part of the stomach is removed). Atrophic gastritis may cause pernicious anemia because it interferes with the absorption of vitamin B12 from food;
  6. Radiation- causes damage to the stomach lining and allowing bacteria to invade the stomach wall, causing a sudden, severe and extremely painful form of gastritis;
  7. Unknown causes- Plasma cell gastritis and Menetriere’s disease

Prevention: Gastritis may be prevented by avoiding the following: medicines that irritate your stomach such as anti-inflammatory medications; excessive ingestion of alcohol; smoking; foods you find hard to digest.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain and cramps;
  • Sharp, dull or annoying pain in the chest;
  • Belching or gas;
  • Acid taste in mouth;
  • Appetite loss;
  • Weakness;
  • Vomiting (occasionally);
  • Black stool due to gastrointestinal bleeding;
  • Swollen abdomen;
  • Mild nausea and diarrhea (rare);
  • Hiccups.

Risk Factors

  • Use of drugs, such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, cortisone, caffeine, and many more;
  • Stress, including surgery and hospitalization for other problems;
  • Improper diet;
  • Illness that has lowered resistance;
  • Smoking;
  • Excess alcohol consumption;
  • Fatigue or over work;
  • The presence of a bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, in the stomach.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of gastritis is suspected when a patient has upper abdominal pain with nausea or heartburn. If the symptoms persist, tests are often not needed and treatment is started on the basis of most likely diagnosis. If the doctor is not certain or if the patient does not respond to treatment, then an examination of the stomach is performed using an endoscope ( a fiber optic tube is passed through the mouth) and a sample of the stomach lining is obtained for examination.

General Measures:

  • Goals of treatment are to relieve the symptoms and eliminate the gastric irritant or other cause;
  • Stop smoking;
  • Hospitalization may be required if excessive bleeding occurs.

Medications:

  • For minor discomfort, you may use non-prescription antacids or acetaminophen. Don’t use aspirin;
  • Other medications such as ulcer-healing drugs may be prescribed- H2 receptor antagonists such as ranitidine (Zantac) and nizatidine (Axid);
  • Helicobacter pylori can be eliminated by treating with a special regimen which is a combination of  two antibiotics and an ulcer healing medication (e.g. omeprazole);
  • Prostaglandins e.g. misoprostol (cytotec) may help allay gastric mucosal injury. May be used  with NSAIDS to prevent gastritis.

Activity:

Resume normal activities as soon as symptoms improve.

Diet:

  • Don’t eat solid food on the first day of the attack. Drink liquids frequently, preferably milk or water. Resume a normal diet slowly, but avoid hot and spicy foods until symptoms disappear;
  • Avoid caffeine

Possible Complications :

Bleeding is an uncommon but dangerous complication, especially in elderly.

Prognosis

Usually curable in several days if the cause is eliminated. Recurrence of Helicobacter pylori  infection may require a repeated course of treatment.

Other

Nothing Specified.

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