Gastritis is a group of digestive conditions classified by an inflammation of the stomach lining. This can be a result of a bacterial infection, excessive alcohol use, stress, or a number of other factors. Gastritis can be acute or chronic, but is usually not a serious condition.
Gastritis usually occurs when the mucus lining on the stomach is weakened and becomes damaged and inflamed by digestive juices. This weakening can be triggered by a number of factors such as:
- Bacterial infection
- Long-term use of pain relievers
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Autoimmune disorders
People with gastritis often experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and feelings of fullness. While most cases appear suddenly, chronic gastritis can develop gradually and causes a duller pain.
Minor cases of gastritis are extremely common and may not require any medical attention, but you should see a doctor if your symptoms last more than a week. Gastritis can be diagnosed through a series of tests that may include a blood test, breath test, stool test or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.
Treatment for gastritis depends on the type and cause of the condition. This can include stopping use of pain relievers or alcohol, antibiotics or medication to reduce stomach acid. If left untreated, gastritis can lead to stomach ulcers or bleeding, and can also increase the risk for stomach cancer. You can reduce your risk of gastritis by maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding smoking and alcohol.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) / Heartburn
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as acid reflux, is a chronic condition classified by frequent occurrences of heartburn. GERD occurs when the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates or refluxes into the esophagus. A high level of acid in the liquid causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the esophagus.
The cause of GERD is not known, but doctors believe it can be caused by a number of factors. Abnormal movement in the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows the liquid to pass in and out of the esophagus, can cause GERD. A hiatal hernia, which moves the lower esophageal sphincter above the diaphragm and prevents it from stopping acid movement, can also cause the condition.
The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. Heartburn occurs when the liquid traveling through the esophagus stimulates the nerve fibers and causes a burning pain in the middle of the chest. Other symptoms may include regurgitation, nausea and trouble swallowing. More severe causes may cause ulcers or asthma.
There is no clear test for diagnosing GERD. Many doctors will treat heartburn symptoms with acid suppressors and consider effective treatment to be a confirmation of GERD. However, heartburn can be a symptom of other conditions, so other tests are sometimes used. These tests include:
- Esophageal acid testing
- Esophageal motility testing
- Gastric emptying studies
While GERD is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, most of the symptoms can treated to effectively reduce the severity and frequency. Symptoms of GERD can often be treated through life changes and over-the-counter medication. Surgery may be required for more severe cases. Talk to your doctor today if you suffer from the symptoms of GERD.
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that grows in the stomach, often causing ulcers and/or chronic gastritis. If left untreated, Helicobacter pylori may lead to stomach cancer or ulcers. While Helicobacter pylori itself has no identifiable symptoms, the ulcers and/or gastritis which it typically causes do. Those symptoms may include nausea, indigestion, bloating, fullness, and abdominal pain.
To determine if someone is infected with Helicobacter pylori, multiple tests are available including upper endoscopy, breath, stool, and blood tests. Treatment for Helicobacter pylori is only effective in patients that also have an ulcer. In such cases, antibiotics, proton-pump inhibitors, or bismuth subsalicylate may be used. The exact course of treatment is based on each individual patient's condition and medical history.