Gastritis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What Is Gastritis & Is It Dangerous?

Gastritis is a medical condition resulting from excess inflammation of the stomach lining. The stomach lining is protected by a layer of mucus that prevents stomach acid from tearing away at it. When this layer weakens, digestive fluids begin to damage to the stomach lining, causing gastritis.

Man With Severe Stomach Pain Caused By Gastritis In Texas

What Causes Gastritis?

In short, there is a mucous-lined barrier covering the stomach lining. When this layer of mucus becomes damaged, weakens, or becomes too thin, the digestive acids in the stomach begin to cause inflammation. The inflammation from these digestive fluids can lead to gastritis.

  • Bacteria. Helicobacter pylorus is a bacterium that is linked to gastritis. The layer protecting the stomach and small intestines from natural stomach acid in the body is a suitable habitat for these bacteria. Although the bacteria generally do not cause any problems, they are capable of causing the inflammation necessary to produce an infection from gastritis. Helicobacter pylori are thought to spread through consumption of food and water, or from contact through kissing.
  • Pain Relievers. The regular use of common over the counter and prescription medications can also help produce stomach inflammation. Examples of these pain medications include aspirin, ibuprofen such as Motrin IB and Advil, Aleve, and Anaprox. Too much use of these drugs will diminish an important substance in the stomach that protects the lining from stomach acid.
  • Alcohol. Excessive alcohol use can do significant damage to many organs. Alcohol causes inflammation and irritates the stomach. It also increases the amount of stomach in the body. When combined, an increase in stomach acid combines with inflammation increases the likelihood of the development of gastritis.
  • Autoimmune gastritis. For some people suffering from autoimmune disorders, gastritis can come and go. An autoimmune disease means that body cells recognize other healthy cells within the stomach lining as a threat. The result is the body attacking these healthy cells that are protecting the stomach lining from the digestive fluids that cause inflammation. Examples of autoimmune disorders are the aforementioned Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease, and type I diabetes.
  • Age. Despite everything that can be done to reduce the risk of developing gastritis, stomach lining thins as it ages. Stomach acid takes its toll on the protective mucus layer of the stomach lining and causes that layer to erode over time.

Common Symptoms Of Gastritis

In some cases, those with gastritis may have no noticeable symptoms at all. However, other sufferers of gastritis may experience some discomforting symptoms. Common indicators of gastritis include stomach or abdomen pain that may either worsen or get better after eating, nausea, vomiting, and an enhanced feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen. Other symptoms can include:

  • A burning or gnawing sensation
  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • “Erosive” gastritis can cause bleeding
  • Loss of appetite

How To Treat Gastritis

Seek medical attention if symptoms of stomach irritation or indigestion last for a week or longer. A person should seek emergency medical attention immediately if there is blood in their vomit or stool, or if the stool is notably black and looks similar to ground coffee. Depending on the suspected cause of someone’s gastritis, doctors will prescribe the necessary medications to reverse the condition. Doctors will also suggest and prescribe acid-reducing medications such as Zantac or Pepcid. These medications help reduce the amount of stomach acid that irritates the stomach lining, thus reducing the intensity of the symptoms caused by gastritis.

Prevention Of Gastritis

While there is no surefire way to prevent gastritis from ever happening, there are ways to minimize the possibility of a gastritis occurrence.

  • Diet. A diet rich in grains has proven to promote regular bowel movements, thus reducing the risk of gastritis and other digestive maladies. Foods such as oats, brown rice, barley, leafy greens, and other whole grains are rich in fiber and help maintain a healthy digestive system. Spicy foods can also irritate the stomach lining and cause inflammation. Avoiding spicy foods may reduce the risk of gastritis. Drinking alcohol increases acids in the stomach and results in inflammation. The best way to prevent digestive infections is by keeping everything in moderation and maintaining a balanced diet.
  • Probiotics. A study conducted by the University of Maryland proved that by consuming foods containing probiotics, inflammation-causing bacteria such as helicobacter pylori can be greatly reduced. Probiotics are gut-healthy bacteria that destroy harmful bacteria in the digestive system. Examples of probiotic foods are yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, buttermilk, and other fermented foods.

If left untreated, gastritis can lead to many other complications. Certain gastritis conditions can lead to stomach bleeding and ulcers, while other extreme forms of gastritis can lead to stomach cancer. It is important to see a doctor immediately when experiencing symptoms of gastritis, especially when they are chronic.

Gastritis Can Become a Serious Emergency

Anyone with gastritis should see a doctor if symptoms are severe, extend past a week, or are unresponsive to adjusting diet or altering lifestyle.

However, any sign of internal bleeding is an immediate emergency and anyone with symptoms of internal bleeding should seek medical attention right away. Internal bleeding can cause dizziness, weakness, or feeling tired without an apparent cause. Feeling confused or passing out can also indicate blood loss. If there is bright red or maroon blood in the stool, a “tarry” appearance in the stool, or vomiting of blood, this is considered an emergency and may be life-threatening. Do not hesitate to come to The Emergency Center for treatment if any of these symptoms occur.

The Emergency Center is here for you in an emergency! Do not hesitate to come to The Emergency Center if you have symptoms of Gastritis or blood loss.  The Emergency Center provides up to 23 hours of Observation and offers 24/7 care with NO WAITING. Visit The Emergency Center’s convenient 24-hour location.


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The Emergency Center

San Antonio
11320 Alamo Ranch Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78253

Phone: 210-485-3644