Gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach, is a condition in which the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed or swollen. It occurs because of chronic use of medications such as NSAIDs, alcohol consumption, and infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Less common reasons leading to gastritis include autoimmune disorders, certain viral infections, extreme cases of stress, and bile reflux. Abuse of cocaine can also produce gastritis, or consumption of caustic substances. Some types of trauma, or major surgery, and those with kidney failure, or placement on a breathing machine have been linked to this condition.
When symptoms arise, people will commonly complain of pain in the abdomen or upper belly, including heartburn or indigestion. They may experience a loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting. In severe cases involving the bleeding from the stomach lining, there may be dark stools and vomiting that produces coffee ground looking material or blood. These are serious symptoms which requires immediate medical attention. A medical provider may request blood work, a stool sample for testing, screening for H. pylori, and a possible endoscopy or EGD. The results of these tests will help to determine the appropriate treatment regime to provide relief of the symptoms.
A cessation of some or all medications may be requested by your attending physician. The regular use of antacids may be needed to decrease the stomach acid, either over-the-counter or a prescription. An antibiotic may also be prescribed, depending upon the cause of the gastritis. The easiest way to prevent this condition is to avoid substances which can cause gastritis. This includes avoiding extensive use of anti-inflammatories, the use of alcohol, certain foods and beverages, and the use of illicit drugs.
If your symptoms persist for more than one week, or you experience bleeding it is imperative you seek medical attention.