Gastritis refers to a set of diseases caused due to the inflammation of your protective stomach lining. The wall of your stomach, a hollow bag-like organ is made up of three layers. The innermost stomach lining is known as mucosa. Mucosa has gastric glands, which produce gastric juices.
The gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and mucus; which is primarily responsible for the digestion of your food, killing the bacteria, and protecting the inner lining of your stomach. When this inner lining swells, it is known as gastritis.
Gastritis is a very common disorder and is triggered by eating spicy foods and lifestyle habits such as being inactive, consuming excessive alcohol, or smoking. Gastritis can be acute or chronic.
Acute gastritis is the sudden inflammation or swelling of your stomach lining. It is temporary and can last for a short while, causing severe pain in your abdomen.
Chronic gastritis is a progressive, long-term inflammation of the stomach tissues and lining. It occurs over a prolonged period of time and can wear out your stomach lining completely, resulting in complications.
While both acute and chronic gastritis can result in symptoms such as vomiting, indigestion, nausea, loss of appetite, and a burning sensation in the stomach, these conditions are different in terms of their causes, treatment, and prevention.
Acute vs. Chronic Gastritis: Know the Differences
1. Causes: Acute gastritis is commonly caused by regular alcohol and tobacco use, stress, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Alcohol and tobacco can irritate your stomach lining and cause it to swell.
Continuous use of NSAIDs (drugs that reduce pain and inflammation) can irritate the gastric mucosa and weaken your stomach’s capacity to tolerate gastric juices.
Chronic gastritis is commonly caused by H. pylori bacteria and can also be a result of illnesses such as diabetes or kidney failure. If you have a weak immune system, you are most likely to develop chronic gastritis. Sometimes, autoimmune disorders can also cause chronic gastritis.
H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori), a common bacteria that lives and grows in your digestive tract (stomach) has a tendency to attack your stomach lining. It can cause ulcers (sores-like), in the lining of your stomach and result in gastritis.
Long-term diabetes (a condition in which there is excess sugar present in your blood) can result in poor appetite, vomiting, bloating and indigestion, all of which are common symptoms of gastritis.
An autoimmune reaction is a malfunctioning of your immune system which can affect the stomach lining cells.
In certain cases, long-term usage of painkillers such as aspirin and NSAIDs can also cause chronic gastritis.
2. Types: Acute gastritis can be of two types: erosive and nonerosive.
Acute erosive gastritis is characterized by ulcer-like symptoms in the stomach lining.
Nonerosive acute gastritis is mainly the result of Helicobacter pylori infection.
Chronic gastritis is divided into the following three types:
Type A is caused by an autoimmune reaction in your stomach lining.
Type B, the most common type, is caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Type C is caused by NSAIDs, or bile juice flowing into your stomach. Bile is a fluid produced by your liver and stored in the gallbladder, which helps in the digestion of your food.
3. Duration: Acute gastritis comes on suddenly, and the symptoms last for about 2-10 days.
Chronic gastritis, if not treated, may last for weeks, or even for years, in some cases.
4. Diagnosis: Your doctor will collect detailed information about your symptoms. Both acute and chronic gastritis is diagnosed with the following tests:
Complete blood count (CBC) test to check your overall health.
Blood or saliva test to check the presence of H. pylori.
Stool test to confirm if there is any bleeding from your stomach, especially if you have long-term symptoms of gastritis.
X-ray to look for structural problems in your digestive system.
Endoscopy to look deep into your digestive tract. Endoscopy involves the insertion of a long tube into your mouth and down into your stomach, with a camera attached.
5. Treatment: Acute gastritis normally goes away in 3-5 days and does not require any treatment. The treatment is mostly symptomatic and certain over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications are used to relieve pain and acidity.
Antibiotics are given only when acute gastritis is caused by H. pylori bacteria. Your doctor may suggest you eat light, simple food and stay away from NSAIDs for a few days.
Chronic gastritis is treated with medications and diet. Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce your stomach acid. A diet low in salty, processed foods and red meats is often recommended. Your doctor may ask you to quit smoking and drinking alcohol. Recommended foods include fruits and vegetables, lean meats, beans, tofu, whole grains, and bread.
Gastritis is a treatable and preventable condition. Take steps to treat your gastritis symptoms at home, and make sure to contact your doctor if the symptoms don’t go away with home treatment.
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2. Information, H., Diseases, D., Gastropathy, G. and Gastropathy, G., 2021. Gastritis & Gastropathy | NIDDK. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: <https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastritis-gastropathy> [Accessed 4 March 2021].
3. Repository.limu.edu.ly. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://repository.limu.edu.ly/bitstream/handle/123456789/1756/acute%20and%20chronic%20gastritis.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y> [Accessed 4 March 2021].
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