Gastritis for those of you who don’t know is when the stomach lining becomes inflamed or swollen. Acute Gastritis is where the inflammation only lasts for a short period of time however; Chronic Gastritis can loiter for months and even years.
This can be due to a number of reasons including;
The ingestion of anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprophen, Volteral and Aspirin. A one off pill will not make any difference however; taking these types of medication on a regular basis can affect the stomach quite dramatically.
Consuming a large quantity of alcohol on a regular basis can cause inflammation of the stomach lining.
Another cause of Gastritis is a type of bacteria found within the lining of the stomach called Helicobacter pylori which in turn can cause an infection within the lining of the stomach and consequently cause inflammation and even stomach ulcers due to excess production of acid.
There are also other less likely things that can cause inflammation of the stomach however, they can still happen.
Viral infections can be a cause of stomach inflammation as these weaken the immune system leaving the body open and susceptible to infection.
Severe and extreme stress can be a cause of inflammation of the stomach.
Bile reflux can sometimes cause Gastritis. In fact, there is a triad in medicine which shows that people, who have suffered from gallstones/gallbladder failure and pancreatitis, can be more likely to suffer with stomach ulcers or stomach inflammation. It is known to doctors as ‘Saints Triad’.
Even severe cocaine abuse can cause inflammation of the stomach.
The Symptoms can be long and tedious ranging from nausea, loss of appetite, severe pain in the upper central aspect of the abdomen and vomiting.
Some symptoms which a sufferer may see are dark stools (blood in the stools) or vomiting blood/dark thick substance.
If the doctor thinks it is necessary to test for Gastritis, this can be done in a variety of ways:
Blood testing, FBC- full blood count is necessary to see if there is anything else going on within the body for example; levels of inflammation, infection etc… Blood testing can also be used to see if you have the bacteria- Helicobacter Pylori, which could be causing the gastritis. In addition, FBC also checks for Anaemia which could occur if there is an ulcer within the stomach or the person has lost any blood.
Endoscopy, this is where the doctor inserts a camera down the throat and into the stomach and past it into the small intestine, to check if there is anything visible which could be causing the gastritis. These can include lesions on the wall of the stomach and ulcers due to excessive acid production. This can be done either under general anaesthetic or sedation.
Gastroscopy, this is the same as above but the camera is only inserted into the stomach and not into the small intestine.
An additional Helicobacter pylori test can almost be described as a breathalyser test that you see in programmes such as ‘Road Wars’.
Finally, a stool sample can grow a stool culture to see if there are any living bacteria causing the gastritis. In addition, this test will show is there is any blood within the stool.
Treatments for this painful inflammation can range anywhere from taking ‘proton pump inhibitors’ which reduce and even stop completely the acid production in the stomach. These include; Omeprazol, Lanzoprazol etc… If you happen to be taking medication which has caused the gastritis you will have to discuss with your healthcare professional about coming off them. Finally H2 antagonists for example; nizatidine, famotidine etc…
Normally if you have acute gastritis, then it should go away with the correct medication and time. However, there can be some complications if the gastritis becomes severe or chronic. In this case you should seek advice from your health care professional IMMEDIATELY.