Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions that have one thing in common – an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. This inflammation of gastritis is most often a result of an infection with the same bacterium which causes most stomach ulcers. The regular use of certain pain relievers and drinking too much alcohol can also lead to gastritis.
This condition can happen slowly over time (known as chronic gastritis) or it can happen suddenly (known as acute gastritis). There are some cases when gastritis can lead to ulcers and an increased risk of stomach cancer. But, for most people, gastritis is not a serious condition and it improves quickly with help of treatment.
Below are given some of the most common signs and symptoms of gastritis:
- A feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen after you have eaten
- Burning ache or gnawing or pain (known as indigestion) in the upper abdomen which can either become worse or better with eating
But, you should remember that gastritis does not always cause symptoms or signs. Almost every single person has a bout of indigestion and stomach irritation. Most cases of indigestion are short-lived and they do not need medical care. You should see your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of gastritis which last for a week or longer.
You need to tell your doctor if the stomach discomfort happens after taking prescription or over–the–counter drugs, especially aspirin or other pain relievers. If you have stools that appear black, you have blood in your stools or you are vomiting blood, then you need to see your doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause for it.
As we have said before, gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. An injury to the mucus–lined barrier (it protects your stomach wall) or weakness to it, can allow your digestive juices to damage and inflame your stomach lining. There are many different diseases and conditions which can increase your risk of gastritis, such as Crohn’s disease and sarcoidosis, which is a condition in which collections of inflammatory cells grow in the body.
There are some factors that can increase your risk of getting gastritis, such as
- Stress: The severe stress which is caused by severe infections, burns, injury, or major surgery, can cause acute gastritis.
- Excessive alcohol use: It is known that alcohol can irritate and erode your stomach lining, which makes your stomach more vulnerable to digestive juices. Excessive alcohol usage is more likely to cause acute gastritis.
- Older age: It is noticed that older adults have an increased risk of gastritis because the stomach lining tends to thin as we are getting older. Older adults are more likely to have H. pylori infection or autoimmune disorders than younger adults, so they have more chances of getting gastritis.
- Your own body attacking cells in your stomach: This type of gastritis is known as autoimmune gastritis. It is a type of gastritis that happens when the body attacks the cells which make up your stomach lining. This type of reaction can wear away at your stomach’s protective barrier. It is noticed that autoimmune gastritis is more common in people with other autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s disease. Also, autoimmune gastritis can be associated with Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
- Regular use of pain relievers: The most common pain relievers, such as naproxen (like Aleve and Anaprox), ibuprofen (like Motrin IB, Advil, and others), and aspirin, can cause both chronic and acute gastritis. If you use these pain relievers too much or too often, then they can reduce a key substance that helps preserve the protective lining of your stomach.
- Bacterial infection: Helicobacter pylori are among the most common worldwide human infections, but only a small percent of people with this infection will develop gastritis or other upper gastrointestinal disorders. Doctors believe that the vulnerability to this bacterium can be a result of inherited factors or due to lifestyle choices, such as diet and smoking.