Our stomach lining is generally strong enough to withstand effects of spicy food, alcohol etc. but the excessive usage of alcohol, certain pain-relieving medication, excessive stress etc. can cause the weakening of the stomach lining leading to Gastritis. It can be acute gastritis (sudden & severe) or chronic one (which lasts over a prolonged period if untreated). Another form of Gastritis is Erosive Gastritis which would not cause much inflammation but is responsible for bleeding and ulcers in the lining of the stomach. Please note that Gastritis is different from Gastroenteritis which is inflammation and swelling of the stomach and bowels while Gastritis is specific to the stomach lining.
One of the most common reasons for this condition is bacterial infection typically caused by Helicobacter Pylori bacteria which infects the lining of the stomach. This bacterium lives in the mucous lining of the stomach and if left untreated for a prolonged period, can lead to bleeding, ulcers and in some cases to stomach cancer. These bacteria are usually passed from one person to another but in some case can also pass through contaminated food and water.
Some of the other conditions which raise the risk of gastritis are:-
Abuse of NSAIDs painkillers such as aspirin reduces a key substance which helps in protecting the lining of our stomach
Excessing use of Alcohol and other drugs erodes our stomach lining making it more vulnerable to digestive juices
As we grow old, stomach lining gets thinner making us more prone to the risk of gastritis
Some uncommon but potential causes of gastritis are stress, autoimmune gastritis (when our body’s immune system mistakenly start attacking the healthy cells in our body), Bile reflux (a backflow of the bile into the stomach from the bile tract).
Symptoms of Gastritis are not highly distinct, vary from person to person and may not present them at all, however, some of the most common ones are: –
Feeling of Fullness especially in the upper abdomen after eating
Gnawing & Burning pain in the stomach
Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material
Since, every time you had indigestion, nausea or stomach pain may not be necessary due to Gastritis, your doctor may ask you to go for either a blood or stool test for accurate diagnosis. Sometimes, they may also like you to go through the Endoscopy procedure to zero down the probable reason for these symptoms.
Treatment of Gastritis is primarily to reduce the level of digestive juices/ acids in the stomach to provide relief and healing to the stomach lining. Your treatment plan may vary depending upon the reason; for example, if you are suffering from gastritis due to infection by H. pylori, you would be required to take a course of antibiotics along with a proton pump inhibitor. If the underlying cause is NSAIDs you are taking, you would be required to switch to different pain relievers. For a speedy relief from Gastritis it’s equally important to monitor our diet and avoiding food items which have high-fat content. Some other food items which we must avoid are alcohol, acidic vegetables like tomatoes, fruit juice, coffee, carbonated drinks, spicy & fried food etc. At times, your doctor may ask you to avoid dairy products such as milk. Try replacing these items with food which have high fiber, low fat and less acidic content, adding probiotics to your daily food routine is also an effective way to get relief from Gastritis.
Although a large section of people (from all ages) gets affected by Gastritis, the good news is that for most people it’s not serious and in the majority of the cases can be easily treated.