What is gastritis?

Gastritis means inflammation in the lining of the stomach.

It can occur suddenly and last for a short period of time (called acute gastritis), and it can last for months or years (called chronic gastritis).

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

Most patients do not have symptoms. However, if patients develop symptoms, they are due to other conditions that can happen with gastritis, like ulcers. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the upper belly area
  • Feeling bloated or full after eating a small amount of food
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vomiting blood, or having black-colored bowel movements
  • Feeling more tired than usual, that occurs when the blood counts drop (called anemia)

What causes gastritis?

Different things can cause gastritis, including:

  • An infection in the stomach from bacteria called "Helicobacter pylori"
  • Medicines like: aspirin, ibuprofen (brand names Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (brand names Aleve, Naprosyn), these are called (NSAIDs) or "nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs"
  • Drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes
  • Conditions where the body’s immune system has attacked the stomach lining 
  • Having a serious or life-threatening illness

When should I call my doctor?

Call your doctor if:

  • You have belly pain that gets worse or doesn't go away
  • You vomit blood or have black bowel movements
  • You are losing weight (without trying to)

How is gastritis treated?

Treatment depends on what's causing your gastritis.

  • If the cause is related to excessive use of NSAIDS, your doctor will recommend that you stop taking those medicines. 
  • In the case of infection, antibiotics can treat infection of the stomach (such as H pylori). Generally, these medicines are used for 2 weeks. 
  • Your doctor might also prescribe medications to help suppress acid production in your stomach.

What tests are done to determine if I have gastritis?

Depending on several factors, such as duration and other associated symptoms, your doctor might want to do some testing. Some tests include:

  • An upper endoscopy (EGD). 
    • During this procedure a thin tube with a camera located on the end, is inserted into your mouth and down into your stomach to see the stomach lining in order to determine if there is irritation. 
    • During this procedure, the doctor might take a small sample of the stomach lining for a biopsy to determine what is causing the irritation.
  • Tests to check for H. pylori infection (those include blood tests, breath tests and stool tests)
  • A barium contrast test, where you will swallow fluid, then have an x-ray, to see how fluid moves through your stomach. 
  • Blood tests to check for anemia
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