Gastritis describes a group of conditions with one thing in common: inflammation of the lining of the stomach. The inflammation of gastritis is often the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers. However, other factors — such as injury, regular use of certain pain relievers or drinking too much alcohol — also can contribute to gastritis.
Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or it can occur slowly over time (chronic gastritis). In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers and an increased risk of stomach cancer. For most people, however, gastritis isn't serious and improves quickly with treatment.
Stomach and pyloric valve
Your stomach is a muscular sac about the size of a small melon that expands when you eat or drink to hold as much as a gallon of food or liquid. Once your stomach pulverizes the food, strong muscular ...
The signs and symptoms of gastritis include:
Gastritis doesn't always cause signs and symptoms.
When to see a doctor
If you are vomiting blood, you have blood in your stools or your stool appears black, see your doctor right away to determine the cause.
Gastritis usually develops when your stomach's protective layer becomes weakened or damaged. A mucus-lined barrier protects the wall of your stomach from the acids that help digest your food. Weaknesses in the barrier allow your digestive juices to damage and inflame your stomach lining. A number of diseases and conditions can make your stomach's protective layer vulnerable to damage and increase your risk of gastritis.
Gastritis can occur suddenly or develop over weeks and months:
Factors that increase your risk of gastritis include:
Left untreated, gastritis may lead to stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding. Some forms of chronic gastritis may increase your risk of stomach cancer, especially if you have extensive thinning of the stomach lining and changes in the lining's cells.
Tell your doctor if your signs and symptoms aren't improving despite treatment for gastritis.
Preparing for your appointment
Start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have signs or symptoms of gastritis. If your doctor suspects you may have gastritis, you may be referred to a specialist in digestive disorders (gastroenterologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For gastritis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
Although your doctor is likely to suspect gastritis after talking to you about your medical history and performing a thorough exam, you may also have tests to pinpoint the exact cause. These tests include:
An endoscopy procedure involves inserting a long, flexible tube (endoscope) down your throat and into your esophagus. A tiny camera on the end of the endoscope lets your doctor examine your esophagus,...
Treatments and drugs
Treatment of gastritis depends on the specific cause. Acute gastritis caused by NSAIDs or alcohol may be relieved by stopping use of those substances. Chronic gastritis caused by H. pylori infection is treated by eradicating the bacteria. Most gastritis treatment plans also incorporate medications that treat stomach acid in order to reduce signs and symptoms you're experiencing and promote healing in your stomach.
Medications used to treat gastritis include:
Lifestyle and home remedies
You may find some relief from signs and symptoms if you:
Preventing H. pylori infection
Last Updated: 2011-04-09
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