Most people with gastritis will find their condition resolves by itself, while others may require the intervention of medical professionals.
Acute and chronic gastritis
Gastritis is the irritation, inflammation or deterioration of the stomach lining. It has two main types: acute gastritis and chronic gastritis.
Acute gastritis is characterised by a sudden onset of sharp and persistent abdominal pain in individuals whose stomach lining is thin, weak or impaired.
In contrast, chronic gastritis develops slowly over time and is caused by changes in the composition of the stomach lining. This type of gastritis is a long-term condition that can lead to more serious gastrointestinal issues like stomach ulcer and cancer, but can improve if given the proper treatment.
Symptoms of gastritis
Most individuals with gastritis will not experience any symptoms, but some will. For those people who will experience symptoms, it is very likely that they will experience the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting (sometimes with blood, in severe cases)
- Weight loss
- Abdominal discomfort and/or stomach pains
- Feeling full, bloated or flatulent
- Blood in the stool (especially if the stomach lining has been eroded)
Causes of gastritis
There are several factors that cause gastritis, including:
- Presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. The H. pylori bacteria eat away at your stomach’s protective layer called the gastric mucosa. But not all individuals who have this type of bacteria experience symptoms of gastritis. If your stomach lining is thin or impaired, you have a greater risk of suffering from the effects of gastritis.
- Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac can increase the secretion of gastric juices in your stomach. A high level of acidity in the stomach can irritate and wear down its protective lining.
- Excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol weakens your stomach’s protective barrier making it more susceptible to damage caused by stomach acids. The more you consume alcohol, the higher the chances of your stomach lining suffering from damage.
- Overproduction of gastric juice. This is one of the ways your body reacts to stress. If you are going through a difficult time in your life or experiencing tension, this can trigger symptoms of gastritis.
- Bile reflux. The backflow of bile into your stomach and other parts of your GI tract may be accompanied by other acids causing irritation and inflammation of your stomach lining.
- Being exposed to radiation. Going through radiation therapy, particularly for your stomach region, increases the risk of your gastric mucosa getting damaged because of the harmful energy emitted by the machine used for this treatment. Continuous exposure to radiation alters the cellular composition of your stomach lining, causing you to experience bouts of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
- Trauma to the stomach. This can be caused by a disease, an injury, a serious infection or a stomach surgery that has affected your stomach lining.
- Allergic and autoimmune diseases. Some autoimmune diseases, such as pernicious anaemia, cause your immune system to attack the cells found along your stomach walls, resulting in atrophic gastritis or the deterioration of the gastric mucosa.
Gastritis, be gone!
Mild or acute gastritis lasts for a short time and goes away on its own. If H. pylori bacteria are found in your stomach and you experience severe symptoms of gastritis, you will most likely need to take antibiotics along with acid suppressants.
Most cases of gastritis will resolve naturally once the cause is no longer present, such as when you’re done with your NSAIDs medication or after you’ve recovered from stomach surgery. If you’re undergoing radiation therapy, symptoms of gastritis are expected to disappear a couple of weeks after the completion of your treatment.
If you go on a drinking spree and binge on alcohol, you will experience a sudden attack of gastritis that will eventually subside once the irritants in your stomach are gone and your gastric mucosa is finally able to repair itself. The same is true when you’re going through a particularly stressful event that causes your stomach to have more acids than usual. Once the acid level in your stomach returns to normal, your symptoms should subsequently disappear.
If you experience persistent symptoms of gastritis that don’t go away despite the absence of NSAIDs, alcohol, stress, and radiation, then you most likely have a serious infection in your stomach or a severely damaged gastric mucosa. Either of these requires the immediate care and attention of a qualified medical practitioner to prevent further erosion of your stomach lining and reverse any damages it may have sustained.
We can help you cope with your gastritis
We are a team of accredited dietitians and nutritionists who have a track record of successfully helping individuals in managing their gut and bowel health concerns through personalised diets and practical lifestyle modifications. Book an appointment with any of our highly trained dietitians and nutritionists by calling (07) 3071 7405.