Normally, the stomach lining is made out of several layers of tissues and covered in gastric mucus. The gastric mucus prevents gastric acid from penetrating the stomach wall.
However, excessive consumption of alcohol and other irritants can cause swelling and redness in the stomach lining. When this happens, gastritis occurs. To know more about gastritis symptoms and prevention, read on.
Type of Gastritis
Gastritis is a common health condition that causes inflammation in the stomach lining. Dyspepsia is another term you can use in reference to gastritis.
Gastritis can occur suddenly and last for a short period of time (acute gastritis). It can also develop over time, which can last for months or even years (chronic gastritis). Gastritis symptoms and prevention differ slightly based on the type of gastritis.
Causes and Risk Factors
Before we dive into gastritis symptoms and prevention, first, we need to know what causes this health problem. Gastritis is known to have a wide range of causes, which includes poor lifestyle and diet habits, such as the following.
- Frequent and excessive consumption of alcohol and spicy food wears down the surface of the stomach. If the thinning of the stomach continues, then it becomes more vulnerable to gastric acids.
- Excessive smoking can cause gastritis, as nicotine and other contaminants found in a cigarette increase the production of stomach acids.
- Past stress inflicted in the stomach, such as major abdominal and bariatric surgeries, traumatic injuries and burns. Previous severe viral or bacterial infections can also cause gastritis.
- Taking in certain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. These pain medications increase the amount of gastric juices in the stomach. It then worsens the inflammation and the thinning of the stomach lining.
- Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that inhabits the digestive tract. This bacteria causes sores in the stomach lining, which might lead to gastritis. A person can develop stomach ulcers when helicobacter pylori infection is left untreated. On rare occasions, this bacteria can also cause stomach cancer.
Underlying health conditions
- Bile reflux happens when bile, a digestive juice produced by the liver, backflows in the stomach and esophagus.
- Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease where the stomach does not produce enough intrinsic factor. Lack of intrinsic factor hinders the absorption and digestion of vitamin B12.
Gastritis Signs and Symptoms
Not all people with gastritis have noticeable symptoms. People with gastritis might feel symptoms that might not be present in another person with the same condition.
Here are the common symptoms that a person with gastritis may experience.
- Upset stomach (indigestion) or a burning sensation on the upper abdomen (heartburn) that might worsen or improve when eating.
- Abdominal bloating or recurrent belching (burping) and hiccups
- Nausea or vomiting (if condition worsens, might also vomit blood)
- Decreased appetite
- Bloody or black stool
What are gastritis complications?
Other health problems might arise due to gastritis, some of them are:
- Peptic ulcer disease is a medical condition wherein painful sores (ulcers) develop in the stomach lining. The ulcers can also develop in the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) or the lower esophagus.
- Stomach or gastric cancer refers to the formation of malignant cancer cells in the stomach lining.
- Gastric polyps and other non-cancerous tumors. Gastric polyps are the most common non-cancerous tumors that develop in the lining of the stomach. Most gastric polyps are benign but some might contribute to worsening to stomach cancer.
Lifestyle changes are the best treatment for gastritis resulting from alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, and stress.
If changing certain habits does not improve gastritis, then certain medications may be prescribed. Here are some of them.
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are medications that help reduce stomach acid production. PPI drugs include omeprazole, pantoprazole, and lansoprazole.
- Antacids are drugs that neutralize stomach acid. Medications such as magnesium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide, and calcium carbonate are all antacids. Antacids also relieve heartburn, upset stomach, and indigestion.
- H2 blockers or histamine H2-receptor antagonists reduce the amount of acid produced by the parietal cells. Prescription H2 blockers include ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and nizatidine (Axid).
Remember to consult your doctor before buying and taking these medications.
Without early diagnosis and treatment, gastritis can worsen. So it’s important to always note gastritis symptoms and prevention.
For you not to acquire or worsen gastritis, here are some prevention tips you can follow.
Too much alcohol in your system can irritate the stomach lining causing it to wear down. If you cannot completely avoid alcohol, then try your best to control your alcohol intake.
The toxins found in cigarettes cause not only gastritis but also other serious medical conditions. Quit smoking as early as you can, so the risks of acquiring these diseases can be manageable.
Avoid excessive consumption of acidic and spicy foods
Frequently eating spicy and acidic foods in large quantities can worsen gastritis. As much as possible, limit your intake of these types of food. Acidic and spicy foods can cause more irritation to the lining of your stomach.
Ask for pain reliever substitutes
Taking certain pain relievers makes your gastritis worse. Ask your doctor if there are available substitutes that are not too aggressive for your stomach. Your doctor might recommend you to take Acetaminophen (Tylenol), as it is a non-aspirin pain reliever.
Gastritis is not the same for everyone. You might have it and it might go away in about 5 to 10 days. Sometimes, you can have gastritis without knowing it. Learning about gastritis symptoms and prevention helps in determining whether you have the condition. Knowing these factors helps prevent gastritis from getting more serious.
Keep in mind to consult your doctor immediately if gastritis symptoms are present. Always follow your doctor’s medical advice and drink all the necessary medications to improve and cure your condition.
Learn more about Digestive Health, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.