Gastritis – Acute and Chronic
Do not take pain or burning sensation in your stomach lightly, it can be gastritis.
Introduction to gastritis
Gastric is the name for stomach and “-itis” refers to inflammation, hence gastritis is the term used to denote inflammation of the stomach. Gastritis occurs when the protective lining of the stomach, which is rich in mucus, breaks down and is unable to prevent the acid in the stomach from attacking the stomach lining. This can be caused by many condition but common causes are the use of certain pain relievers (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin), alcohol, smoking, spicy foods, certain injuries, stress, old age chronic vomiting etc. The presence of the bacterium helicobacter pylori is also implicated in the disorders of the stomach such as gastritis, gastric ulcers and stomach cancers. In India, H. pylori infection is very common especially in lower socioeconomic status communities.
Acute vs. chronic gastritis
Acute gastritis is one that occurs suddenly and persists for only a short time whereas the chronic form occurs over a long period of time in response to antibodies being produced (autoimmune) by the body against its own cells in the stomach, or in conditions such as HIV/AIDS and lasts an extended period of time.
Signs and symptoms of grastritis
Patients may feel the following:
Pain in the abdominal area (upper abdomen/below sternum area)
Nausea with or without vomiting (may vomit blood or coffee ground-like material)
Abdominal bloating and loss of appetite
Burning sensation in the stomach made worse after eating or lying down in the night
Black tarry stools (signifying bleeding in the stomach)
Investigations and diagnosis of gastritis
A thorough history and physical examination can help the doctor in diagnosing gastritis. Certa in test can also help to confirm the diagnosis. These include:
H. pylori testing: This can be done via a blood test, stool test or a breath test.
Endoscopy: This involves passing a tube through which the surgeon looks inside the body. The esophagus, stomach and small intestine can be seen. Samples (biopsy) of any suspicious tissues can also be taken for lab investigations during this test.
Barium meal testing: This involves swallowing liquid barium and then taking several series of X-ray of the upper gastro-intestinal tract.
Treatment of gastritis
Foods that may be irritating the stomach should be avoided. These include spicy, acidic, fried or fatty foods. The use of aggravating factors such as alcohol or irritating medicines should be stopped. A course of multiple antibiotics are given to eradicate the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Antacids are given in mild cases to neutralize the acid in the stomach. Acid reducing drugs such as ranitidine, famotidine, and cimetidine or acid-blocking proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole, and pantoprazole are also given when required.
Photographs by Creative commons
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