Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions that all occur when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed after damage. Gastritis is a common condition and is most often caused by an infection with the same bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. High alcohol consumption and regular use of certain painkillers can also contribute to this condition. It can appear slowly over time (chronic gastritis) or appear suddenly (acute gastritis). For most people, gastritis isn’t serious and can improve quickly with the right treatment.
It is possible to have no signs or symptoms and still have gastritis. Many people with gastritis caused by a bacterial infection don’t have any symptoms.
- You feel sick (nausea)
- You are being sick (vomiting)
- You have indigestion
- You are experiencing a gnawing or burning stomach pain
- You feel full after eating (especially feeling full in your upper abdomen)
- If you have erosive gastritis and the stomach lining has been worn away and exposed to stomach acid, symptoms can also include: bleeding, pain and stomach ulcers
Having long-term (chronic) gastritis increases your risk of developing:
- Polyps (small growths in your stomach)
- A stomach ulcer
- Tumours in your stomach (which may or may not be cancerous)
When to see an expert at Ahmeys?
If your indigestion symptoms have lasted for a week or longer, or you have been in severe pain or discomfort, we recommend you call and or book an appointment to speak to one of our experts. Additional reasons to see one of our experts are: vomiting blood or bloody stools (your stools may appear black) or if you think your symptoms are being caused by a medication that you have been prescribed.
There are many potential causes of gastritis, the most common causes are:
- A H. pylori bacterial infection (more common in older age groups and can be lifelong unless it is treated with eradication therapy. Infections caused by this bacterium are common and don’t usually cause symptoms, but it can sometimes lead to recurring bouts of indigestion due to the inflammation of the stomach lining)
- Regularly taking ibuprofen, aspirin, and other painkillers classed as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Excessive consumption of alcohol or cocaine
- Stress on the body such as a bad injury, critical illness or major surgery
- Less commonly, your gastritis could be caused by an autoimmune reaction (where the immune system attacks its own cells and tissues – in this case, the stomach lining)
If you are able to recognise from the list of symptoms that you have gastritis, you can usually treat it at home by taking antacids and other over the counter products that reduce your body’s production of acid. If you are concerned that your symptoms are severe or have lasted for a long time, call Ahmeys to book an appointment with one of our experts to discuss your symptoms and potential treatments. An expert at Ahmeys will review your symptoms and potentially recommend one of the following tests
- A stool sample test (to check for internal bleeding and infection)
- A H. pylori breath test (involves drinking a glass of clear, tasteless liquid that contains radioactive carbon and blowing into a bag)
- A barium swallow test (involves drinking a barium solution, which shows up on X-rays as it passes through your digestive system)
- An endoscopy (a flexible tube is passed down through your throat and into your oesophagus and stomach to look for inflammation
Once one of our experts has assessed you, they will discuss treatment options with you. Your treatments will be based on what one of our experts determines is the cause of your inflammation. Treatment may also depend on the results of any potential diagnostic tests. One of our experts may prescribe:
- Histamine 2 (H2) blockers (medicines that decrease acid production)
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPis) such as Omeprazole (medicines that decrease acid production more effectively than H2 blockers)
- If you have been diagnosed with an H. pylori infection by one of our Ahmeys experts, it is likely that you will also be prescribed antibiotics
How to manage your symptoms?
- If you think that your gastritis may be caused by repeated use of painkillers, try to switch to a different class of painkiller, such as paracetamol. Call Ahmeys to speak to one of our experts if you feel unsure about which painkiller you should be taking
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Avoid or reduce your consumption of alcohol
- Avoid recreational drugs
- Avoid spicy, acidic or fried foods (as these irritate the stomach lining)
- Try to manage and reduce your stress