Gastritis is commonly mistaken for the experience of uneasiness in the upper abdomen. However, it is actually the inflammation of the stomach linings or the part called mucosa. Within the stomach, different cells are found. These cells produce digestive enzymes and acids that help break down the food we eat. The same cells produce the mucus that protects the stomach from such acidity. If there is an inflammation in the mucosal lining, the cells are unable to produce adequate amount of enzyme, acid, and mucus. This leads to the different symptoms of gastritis.
Gastritis has two types: nonerosive and erosive gastritis. Both of which can be acute or chronic. Acute gastritis is characterized by severe inflammation of the stomach lining while that which is longstanding is called chronic gastritis. However, while erosive gastritis is not characterized by too much inflammation, it can wear away the stomach lining which may lead to ulcer and bleeding. Gastritis is diagnosed through a procedure called endoscopy and may lead to complications namely, polyps, ulcers, and tumors.
The Causes of Gastritis
The causes of gastritis can be as follows:
a) Bacteria. H. Pylori is a kind of infectious bacteria that causes acute gastritis. It can be transferred from person to person through contaminated water or food. Other bacteria, fungi, virus, and parasites can infect the stomach lining.
b) Drugs. Prolonged use of drugs such as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also cause both acute and chronic gastritis. Examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen and aspirin.
c) Injuries. Burns, traumatic injuries, and critical illness can lead to both types of gastritis.
d) Disorders. Autoimmune disorders sometimes cause the immune system to attack cells lining the stomach. Digestive disorders like pernicious anemia and Chron’s disease are less frequent causes.
e) Others. Other causes of gastritis can be cocaine use, alcohol consumption, and radiation.
The Symptoms of Gastritis
Gastritis Symptoms vary depending on whether the type of gastritis is nonerosive or erosive. Nonerosive patients commonly suffer symptoms such as the following:
b) Pain or discomfort in the upper abdominal area
c) Collectively, all three is called dyspepsia.
In turn, erosive gastritis has the following symptoms:
a) Red blood in stool
b) Black or tarry stools
c) Bloody vomit
Note that the three symptoms above are caused by the bleeding which is, in turn, caused by stomach erosion.
Treatment of Gastritis
There are medications that alleviate the Gastritis Symptoms at the same time help heal the mucosal lining. Some of them are as follows:
a) Antacids. Sodium Bicarbonate, aspirin, and citric acid; magnesia and calcium carbonate; and magnesia and alumina. Antacids are helpful in relieving the symptoms of gastritis by acid neutralization which takes place in the stomach. However, intake may also have side effects like constipation and diarrhea.
b) Histamine 2 Blockers. Ranitidine and Famotidine are examples of Histamine 2 (H2) Blockers. Generally, H2 Blockers minimize the production of acid in the stomach. These medications are available over the counter and by prescription.
c) Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPI. Examples of PPI are omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, dexlansoprazole, and esomeprazole. More effective than H2 Blockers, PPIs decrease the production of acid in the stomach. These medicines are also available over the counter or by prescription.
d) Other medication options. Given the different causes of gastritis, Doctors may advise a more appropriate training for patients. For example, if a patient developed gastritis due to NSAID intake, he may be advised to lower his intake until he successfully transitions to another form of medication.
A Note about Treating H. Pylori
One of the most important considerations in treating gastritis is when it is caused by the bacteria called H. Pylori. Treatment is crucial even if the patient does not experience the symptoms of gastritis as being infected with the same bacteria can lead to ulcer in the small intestine or the stomach. Treatment usually involves the administration of antibiotics and PPI. To ascertain treatment, the Doctor may require stool or breathe examination. In addition, once the bacteria is killed, the chances of developing gastritis and other diseases related to the gastrointestinal track like peptic ulcer, MALT lymphoma, and gastric cancer is decreased.
On a final note, individuals should know that an experience of discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen does not necessarily mean that gastritis is being experienced.