Gastritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the lining of the stomach and the most common cause for the chronic inflammation is a bacterium named Helicobacter pylori.
What is going on in the body?
Gastritis occurs when the normal protective mechanisms in the stomach are blocked and inflammation occurs in the stomach lining as a result. The lining of the stomach becomes irritated and inflamed.
Gastritis may occur suddenly, which is called acute gastritis, or develop and progress gradually over a long period of time, which is called chronic gastritis.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Causes of gastritis include:
infection with a bacteria called H. pylori (chronic)
irritation caused by medicines, such as antibiotics, aspirin or nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs called NSAIDs (usually acute and may be complicated by ulcers and/or bleeding especially in the elderly).
ingestion of caustic or corrosive materials (acute)
severe trauma or illness during intensive care (acute)
autoimmune disorders, which are conditions in which the immune system may attack the stomach in certain individuals with a predisposition (genetic). These individuals may also have diabetes, adrenal gland disease, and vitamin B12 deficiency. (chronic)
alcohol (acute and chronic)
What can be done to prevent the disease?
Some ways to prevent gastritis include:
limiting or avoiding alcohol and caffeine
limiting or avoiding aspirin or non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (i.e., Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (i.e., Anaprox, Aleve, Naprosyn) which are called COX-1 inhibitors.
taking medications such as a histamine type 2-receptor blocker (such as ranitidine <i.e., Zantac> or cimetidine <i.e., Tagamet>) or a proton pump inhibitor (like omeprazole <i.e., Prilosec>) to reduce acid secretion
eradicate H. pylori infection with antibiotics if it is diagnosed.
How is the disease diagnosed?
Healthcare professionals use several methods to diagnose and classify different kinds of gastritis. These include:
doing a physical exam and asking about symptoms of gastritis
checking a stool sample for blood
checking the appearance of the stomach lining with an endoscope, a camera on a long, thin tube that goes down through the mouth and into the stomach
- doing a biopsy, which means taking a sample of tissue from the stomach lining for examination under a microscope
- If the bacteria H. pylori is suspected, a blood test, a breath test, or biopsy may be done to see if it is has infected the stomach and caused the gastritis.
Long Term Effects
What are the long-term effects of the disease?
Depending on the cause of the gastritis, the long-term effects may vary. Untreated gastritis may lead to stomach bleeding..
Chronic gastritis increases the risk of stomach cancer. It is important that the cause of gastritis be identified and the appropriate treatment given to prevent complications.
What are the risks to others?
Bacterial gastritis from H. pylori can spread through families in developing countries. People may inherit a tendency for autoimmune gastritis. The other forms of gastritis generally pose no risk to others.
What are the treatments for the disease?
The goals of treatment are to relieve the symptoms and treat the underlying cause. This can be accomplished by:
antibiotics if H. pylori is thought to be the cause (treatment is usually 3 antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor for 7-14 days)
medications such as cimetidine (i.e., Tagamet) or omeprazole (i.e., Prilosec)
changes in lifestyle, such as not smoking and limiting or avoiding alcohol
surgery, if bleeding occurs
- avoidance of aspirin or NSAIDs if possible, but if NSAIDs are necessary, the considering the use of a COX-2 inhibitors rather than a COX-1 NSAIDs
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects of the medication may include:
Overall, the PPIs have few to no side effects.
What happens after treatment for the disease?
Gastritis is usually curable if the cause is eliminated. People with gastritis should seek medical care immediately if they vomit blood, notice dark black stool, or have severe pain. If treatment is effective, persons are generally free to return to their normal activities.
How is the disease monitored?
Gastritis is monitored by regular visits to the healthcare professional and monitoring for a return of the gastritis symptoms or evidence of bleeding in the stool..