There are many different conditions that cause inflammation of the lining of the stomach. This symptom of swelling within the stomach is known as Gastritis. Gastritis is often caused by the development of an infection that in many cases is caused by the same bacteria that often leads to stomach ulcers, called Helicobacter pylori. There are many different factors that lead to the development of Gastritis, such as the overuse of pain killers and drinking too much alcohol.
Common medical conditions that lead to Gastritis include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Acid reflux
- Peptic ulcers
Gastritis either onsets suddenly and is called acute Gastritis, or sets in gradually and is known as chronic Gastritis. If Gastritis is left untreated it could cause ulcers to develop and also may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. Gastritis does not always cause symptoms, but many people with the condition do experience nausea, vomiting and indigestion. Many patients also experience a feeling of fullness in their upper abdomen following a meal, though these symptoms often also occur separate from Gastritis as well. It is important to consult your physician if these symptoms persist or repeatedly appear over the course of a week.
Certain habits and lifestyle choices may increase your risk of developing Gastritis. The most common risk factor is bacterial infections. The Helicobacter pylori bacterium is incredibly common and contagious and can lead to the breakdown of the protective lining of your stomach. Regular use of pain killers and excessive alcohol use also increase your risk of developing the disease as they can cause the lining of your stomach to be vulnerable. Older adults and people with heightened stress levels are at an increased likelihood of developing Gastritis, as are patients that have suffered from bile reflux disease in the past. Other diseases that are associated with Gastritis include HIV / AIDS, Crohn’s disease and also parasitic infections.
Tests and treatment for Gastritis depend on your individual circumstances. Your physician may use a breath, stool or blood test to determine if you have contracted the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. To examine your stomach lining and entire upper digestive system for abnormalities your physician will likely use an endoscopy exam. In other situations your physician may recommend an x-ray exam with a barium swallow, which assists in the evaluation of the upper gastrointestinal series. The x-ray exam is entirely non-invasive and allows your physician to evaluate images of your esophagus, stomach and small intestine for abnormalities.
Gastritis is often successfully treated with medications that help your stomach to heal by reducing the presence of acid reflux, like antacids, H-2 (histamine) blockers, or proton pump inhibitors. If your Gastritis developed due to the Helicobacter pylori bacterium than your physician will likely recommend antibiotics.