Gastritis refers to the inflammation of the stomach lining, known as the mucosa, which protect the stomach from the daily exposure to acids, enzymes, and microorganisms. This inflammation is commonly triggered by an infection from the same bacterium that causes many stomach ulcers, or by the regular usage of specific pain relievers. Excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to the development of gastritis.
There are two main types of gastritis: acute and chronic.
- Acute gastritis: Occurs suddenly and is of a temporary nature. The factors leading to its occurrence are typically acute as well.
- Chronic gastritis: Is a persistent condition that often develops gradually, usually as a result of an underlying chronic health issue. While you may not always notice its presence, it can persist over the long term.
Gastritis can further be categorized into erosive and nonerosive forms.
- Erosive gastritis: Involves substances that actively damage the stomach lining, leading to the formation of ulcers. These damaging agents can include chemicals like acid, bile, alcohol, or certain medications.
- Nonerosive gastritis: Doesn’t lead to ulcers but can still cause irritation, resulting in the reddening of the stomach lining. Atrophic gastritis, a specific form of nonerosive gastritis, can cause the thinning or wasting away (atrophy) of the stomach lining, leading to potential digestive problems.
Gastritis can potentially result in ulcers and an increased risk of stomach cancer. Nevertheless, for most cases, gastritis is not a severe condition and typically responds well to treatment, improving rapidly.
Gastritis can sometimes be without symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, they could suggest a more severe or prolonged condition. Symptoms might emerge when the stomach lining becomes worn down, unable to protect against its own acids and enzymes. These acids can cause indigestion or even the formation of stomach ulcers, which can be painful and lead to bleeding. Common symptoms include:
- Reduced appetite or feeling full shortly after a meal.
- Stomach discomfort and a sense of fullness.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
In the case of a bleeding ulcer, you might notice:
- Dark, tar–like stool (melena).
- Vomit resembling coffee grounds in color and texture.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have:
- Severe pain.
- Inability to keep food down, resulting in vomiting.
- Feeling light–headed or dizzy.
Gastritis refers to the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. When the protective mucus–lined barrier that shields the stomach wall is weakened or damaged, digestive juices can harm and inflame the stomach lining. Several diseases and conditions, including inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease, can elevate the risk of developing gastritis.
Your risk of gastritis is affected by the following factors:
- Older age. Because the stomach lining thins with age and because older people are more likely than younger people to have autoimmune illnesses or H. pylori infections, older people are at higher risk for developing gastritis.
- Bacterial infection. Although Helicobacter pylori infection is one of the most widespread human diseases in the world, only a small percentage of those infected go on to develop gastritis or other upper gastrointestinal illnesses. Doctors hypothesize that bacterial susceptibility may be inherited or brought on by lifestyle factors like smoking and nutrition.
- Stress. Acute gastritis can be brought on by extreme stress brought on by major surgery, trauma, burns, or serious infections.
- Regular use of pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti–inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS), sometimes known as painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can lead to both acute and chronic gastritis. Regular use of these painkillers or excessive dosages of these medications may cause a reduction in a crucial compound that protects the stomach’s protective lining.
- Excessive alcohol use. Your stomach’s lining might become inflamed and eroded by alcohol, making it more susceptible to digestive fluids. Acute gastritis is more prone to develop in people who drink excessively.
- Cancer treatment. Your risk of gastritis may increase if you are receiving chemotherapy medications or radiation therapy.
- Autoimmune gastritis. Autoimmune gastritis happens when your immune system attacks the cells in your stomach lining, which can weaken the stomach’s protection. This type is more common if you have other immune–related issues like Hashimoto’s disease or type 1 diabetes. It’s also connected to low vitamin B–12 levels.
- Other diseases and conditions. Other medical problems like HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, sarcoidosis, and parasite infections can all be linked to gastroenteritis.