Gastritis refers to a set of diseases caused due to the inflammation of your protective stomach lining. Your stomach is a hollow bag-like organ composed of three parts or regions called fundus (upper region), corpus (body), and antrum (lower region). The wall of this bag 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.
Gastritis is very common and is seen in people across all age groups. Gastritis can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, as well as with ayurvedic remedies.
Causes of Gastritis
Various factors like spicy food, medicines, tobacco, alcohol, etc., can cause an increase in gastric acid production and disturb, weaken or damage your normal stomach lining.
Gastrointestinal bacterial infection can also cause gastritis. The most common bacterial infection that causes it is Helicobacter pylori. It’s a bacterium that infects the lining of the stomach. The infection is usually passed from person to person, but can also be transmitted through contaminated food or water.
There are some risk factors that can be associated with gastritis which include:
Extreme alcohol consumption
Routine use of painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin
Age. The stomach lining usually degrades with age
Stress caused due to severe injury, illness, or surgery
Autoimmune thyroiditis (disease of the thyroid gland due to autoimmunity), Type 1 diabetes mellitus, Addison’s disease (insufficiency of the adrenal gland), and vitiligo (a disease in which there is the loss of skin colour in patches). Autoimmune disease is when your body attacks itself. It sees a part of your body or a process as a disease/threat and tries to combat it.
Viral infections in the stomach commonly known as stomach flu is represented by diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Symptoms of gastritis vary among individuals, and in many people, there are no symptoms. However, the most common symptoms include:
Nausea or recurrent upset stomach
Burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach between meals or at night
Loss of appetite
Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material
Black, tarry stools
To diagnose gastritis, your doctor will review your personal and family medical history, perform a thorough physical evaluation, and may recommend any of the following tests:
Blood tests. The doctor may perform various blood tests, such as checking your red blood cell (RBCs) count to determine whether you have anemia, which means that you do not have enough red blood cells. Your doctor will also screen for H. pylori infection.
Fecal occult blood test (stool test). This test checks for the presence of blood in your stool, a possible sign of gastritis.
The doctor will advise medications like antacids and proton pump inhibitors or H-2 blockers that can neutralize the acidity in your stomach.
For gastritis caused by H. pylori infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics (destroys bacteria) plus an acid-blocking drug for acidity.
If your gastritis is caused by anemia, B12 vitamin therapy will be prescribed by your doctor. Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs when there is a decrease in red blood cells because your body can't absorb enough vitamin B12. Common causes include a weakened stomach lining.
Your doctor would also inform you to eliminate some foods like spicy food, coffee, fried items, etc., from your diet as they can irritate your stomach lining, causing more production of acid, which could cause increased gastritis.
Self Care Tips During Gastritis
Have smaller meals. Rather than three large meals, you should try eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Eating smaller amounts can boost stomach healing by reducing the effects of stomach acids.
Avoid alcohol. It is also a good idea for you to avoid or cut back on the consumption of alcohol, as it significantly increases stomach inflammation.
Quit smoking. Smoking leads to stomach inflammation and increases the risk of gastritis.
Include omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics in your diet as they may have a role in healing gastritis. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, flax seeds, salmon, etc., and probiotics like yogurt, soft cheese, sour pickles are a good place to start.
Do not self-medicate. If you are considering taking any supplements or vitamins, talk to your doctor first as they may interfere with treatments for other conditions.
Finding out what causes your gastritis might be the key to finding out the best ways to treat it. 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.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.