About This Condition
Gastritis is a broad term for inflammation of the stomach lining, also called the gastric mucosa.
This condition can be caused by many factors and, in some cases, may lead to an ulcer. For that reason, many of the same nutrients, herbs, and lifestyle changes for a peptic ulcer might also help someone with gastritis.
Bacterial infection, most notably with Helicobacter pylori, is a major cause of gastritis. H. pylori is the same bacterium responsible for most cases of peptic ulcer. When considering treatments for gastritis, many researchers now look for substances that eradicate H. pylori, including bismuth and antibiotics.
Other causes of gastritis include intake of caustic poisons, alcohol, and some medications (such as aspirin or adrenal corticosteroids), as well as physical stress from the flu, major surgery, severe burns, or injuries. For some people, a drug allergy or food poisoning can cause gastritis. Atrophic gastritis is a form of gastritis found particularly in the elderly, where stomach cells are destroyed, potentially leading to pernicious anemia.
Acute gastritis is typically characterized by nonspecific abdominal pain. Since gastritis often occurs in severely ill, hospitalized people, its symptoms may be eclipsed by other, more severe symptoms. Gastritis that is caused by H. pylori eventually leads to peptic ulcers, which are characterized by a dull ache in the upper abdomen that usually occurs two to three hours after a meal; the ache is typically relieved by eating.
Acute gastritis caused by trauma, stress, or severe illness usually heals rapidly when the underlying cause is resolved. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ethanol are common stomach tissue irritants and their use should be limited in people with gastritis.