Gastritis involves the swelling, irritation, and reddening of the stomach lining, which may even show areas of rawness susceptible to bleeding.

What Causes Gastritis?

The stomach is designed to generate acid that aids in digesting food and destroying harmful pathogens. This corrosive acid is neutralised by a mucous barrier, produced by cells on the stomach lining. Gastritis arises when this equilibrium between acid production and mucosal protection is disturbed, causing the stomach lining to become damaged. Factors contributing to this imbalance include:

  • Bacterial infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Contaminated food
  • Tobacco smoking

Symptoms of Gastritis

While gastritis often doesn't manifest any symptoms, when it does, they can range from:

  • Discomfort in the abdominal area
  • Feeling of tightness below the sternum, generally after or during meals
  • Sensation of burning pain in the stomach
  • Dyspepsia or indigestion
  • Nausea accompanied by vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Possibility of vomiting blood

How is Gastritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosis starts with an evaluation of your medical history, symptomatology, and a physical examination. Depending on the initial findings, your healthcare provider may opt for medical treatment to see if the symptoms subside or recommend additional tests.

These could be blood tests, stool analysis, or a Urea Breath Test to check for an H. pylori infection. In certain instances, a gastroscopy may be performed, where a lighted, flexible instrument is inserted into your stomach. During this procedure, a small sample of your stomach lining may be extracted (biopsy) for further examination.

Treatment Options for Gastritis

The treatment strategy for gastritis is tailored according to its root cause. The available treatment options can include:

  • Antibiotics to eradicate bacterial infections
  • Antacids to neutralise stomach acid
  • Lifestyle modifications to avoid stomach irritants
  • Precautionary measures to steer clear of factors elevating stomach acid
  • Medications like Proton Pump Inhibitors, available both OTC and via prescription
  • Smaller, more frequent meals
  • Abstaining from alcohol
  • Stress management techniques
  • Refraining from consuming spicy foods