Gastritis is a general term that describes inflammation in the lining of the stomach. Gastritis may be acute or chronic and it may or may not cause symptoms.
Gastritis can be caused by several conditions and infections but the major culprits are:
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Many people with gastritis do not have any symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Abdominal fullness sensation
- Decreased appetite
When to see a doctor:
If symptoms suggestive of gastritis persist for more than a few days and do not resolve on their own or with taking over-the-counter antacids or acid blocking medications a medical evaluation is necessary. If you develop severe pain or vomiting blood or black stools you should seek medical attention immediately.
Left untreated, gastritis can lead to ulcers or bleeding.
Your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical examination and may recommend an upper endoscopy.
Upper endoscopy: while you are sedated the doctor inserts a thin tube with a camera and a light at its tip from your mouth down to the stomach. The doctor may take small pieces of tissue from the stomach lining (biopsies). The tissue will be examined under the microscope.
The treatment depends on the specific cause of the gastritis.
- Anti-inflammatory medications may need to be stopped.
- Aspirin may need to be held if medically possible.
- Antibiotics may be needed to eradicate Helicobacter pylori infection.
- Proton pump inhibitor medications can be used to block the production of acid.
- Histamine blocker medications can be used to decrease the production of acid.
- Antacids can be used to neutralize the stomach acid.