Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can be caused by a multitude of factors.
The condition can be an acute or chronic issue, increasing the risk of developing other conditions such as stomach ulcers, bleeding or cancer.
Causes of gastritis include:
- Infection with parasitic, viral or bacterial organisms, including Helicobacter pylori bacteria
- Use of medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, steroids, potassium or other similar drugs
- Caffeine consumption
- Ingestion of chemicals
- Chronic vomiting
- Post-procedure complications
- Excessive alcohol use (even during one single evening)
- Autoimmune disorders such as pernicious anemia
- B12 deficiency
- Other conditions such as HIV and Crohn’s disease.
Symptoms of gastritis
At times, people with gastritis may be asymptomatic. However, typical symptoms of gastritis include:
Abdominal pain: people with gastritis typically report that their abdominal pain is located in the upper center of the abdomen and is also often experienced in the upper left portion of the stomach radiating to the back.
The pain can be described as gnawing, sharp, stabbing or burning in nature.
Other common symptoms include:
- Upper abdominal fullness following a meal
When vomiting is experienced, its appearance may be clear, yellow or green, and may be blood-streaked or completely bloody in nature.
Symptoms of a severe form of gastritis may include:
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Severe stomach pain
- Vomiting blood
- Bloody and/or foul-smelling bowel movements.
Cases of gastritis can be either acute or chronic. Acute gastritis occurs abruptly and only lasts for a brief amount of time. In contrast, chronic gastritis can last for months and even years if the patient does not receive any treatment for the condition.
Complications of gastritis
Chronic gastritis can lead to a number of complications for the patient if the condition is left untreated. Gastritis can be either erosive – causing the breakdown of the stomach lining – or non-erosive, just causing inflammation.
Fast facts about peptic ulcers
- Peptic ulcers are caused by digestive juices eroding the stomach lining or duodenum
- Peptic ulcers often cause pain, weight loss and vomiting.
Complications of untreated chronic gastritis include:
- Anemia: erosive gastritis can cause chronic bleeding which, in turn, can lead to anemia
- Atrophic gastritis: chronic inflammation in the stomach can cause the loss of both the stomach lining and glands
- Peptic ulcers: ulcers can form in the lining of the stomach and duodenum
- Growths in the stomach lining: the risk of both benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous) growths increases in people with gastritis. If the gastritis is caused by H. pylori bacteria, it also increases the risk of a specific form of cancer known as gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.
Cases of acute gastritis do not typically lead to any complications.
If gastritis is not treated, ulcers can form in the stomach lining and first part of the small intestine.
Seek urgent medical evaluation of you are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Vomiting blood
- Excessive vomiting of yellow or green emesis
- Inability to keep down food or liquids
- Black or bloody bowel movements
- Abdominal pain with fevers
- Fainting or the feeling that you will faint
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Pale complexion
- Shortness of breath.
If you think you may have gastritis or are at risk of developing the condition, contact your health care provider for evaluation and treatment as necessary.