Gastritis

Gastritis is a condition that involves inflammation or swelling of the stomach lining.

Causes

There are a number of causes associated with gastritis. Gastritis is most often caused by certain medications that may irritate the stomach over a lengthy period of time such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Gastritis is also associated with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, a stomach infection, and can also be caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.

Gastritis also has a few less common causes, including extreme stress, drug abuse, consuming corrosive materials, viral infections or bile reflux, when bile flows back into the stomach.

Symptoms

While many people do not display symptoms of gastritis, patients may notice:

  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Black stools
  • Vomiting blood or a substance that looks like coffee grounds

Testing

Testing for gastritis includes a CBC, or complete blood count, which checks for anemia or low blood count, which would be evidence of abnormal activity in the stomach. A gastroenterologist may also perform an endoscopy, which is when a long, thin tube called an endoscope is run through the mouth and esophagus, down into the stomach. Since the endoscope has a camera on the end, this helps the doctor look for signs of gastritis within the stomach. H. pylori tests and stool tests may also be requested.

Treatment

Because there are a variety of causes of gastritis, treatment will depend on the specific cause. For instance, if a certain medication is causing gastritis, your health care provider may recommend you to stop taking it while your stomach heals. Antacids, H2 antagonists and proton pump inhibitors are also medications that reduce the presence of stomach acid in the stomach.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gastritis, please consult your health care provider.