Gastritis, inflammation of the stomach lining

Inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) is often caused by stress, bacteria or irritants such as tobacco and alcohol.

Overview

Inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) is often caused by stress, bacteria or irritants such as tobacco and alcohol. Severe upper stomach pain, heartburn and vomiting are typical. Gastritis is a nuisance, but usually heals by itself after the cause has been treated.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

A gastritis attack can be severe or very discreet:

  • Weak, dull or shooting stomach pain (can come and go)
  • Heartburn
  • Pressure in the upper abdomen
  • Vomiting, occasionally blood in vomit (has the appearance of coffee grounds)
  • Loss of appetite, feeling of fullness after eating
  • Acid reflux
  • Simultaneous diarrhoea, in particular accompanied by fever, points to an infection (gastroenteritis)

Complications

  • Stomach ulcer (peptic ulcer disease)
  • Anaemia (because the infected stomach is bleeding)
  • Severe gastric bleeding with circulatory disorders
  • Increased long-term risk of stomach cancer

Causes and treatment

Causes

Gastritis is caused by an imbalance between stomach acid production and protective factors (mucous membrane, good circulation). Possible triggers include:

  • Bacteria (Helicobacter pylori)
  • Viruses
  • Increased production of stomach acid (e.g. as a reaction to stress)
  • Medication that can attack the stomach lining (many painkillers, cortisone, medication to treat cancer, etc.)
  • Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine
  • Food allergy, food intolerance
  • Autoimmune processes (formation of antibodies that attack the cells of the stomach lining)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Endoscopic examination of stomach (gastroscopy)
  • Blood test (search for antibodies against stomach lining cells)
Possible therapies
  • Medication to reduce the production of stomach acid (proton-pump inhibitors, “gastric protection”)
  • Antibiotics for bacteria
  • Vitamin B12 supplements (an infection can impair its absorption)

What can I do myself?

  • Take a “tea break”: live on chamomile tea and rusks for a while
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee, high-fat and spicy meals
  • Stop smoking

When to see a doctor?

Synonyms

inflammation of the stomach lining, gastritis

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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