The term gastritis describes inflammation of the stomach wall.
The term gastritis describes inflammation of the stomach wall. In some people, gastritis is acute, which appears suddenly and only lasts a matter of days or weeks. Others have chronic gastritis, which develops slowly and lasts months or years.
Most cases of gastritis are not serious and get better quickly with treatment. However, in a small proportion of cases, gastritis can develop into peptic ulcers and increase the risk of stomach cancer.
In the stomach, there is a mucous layer which is the outermost lining of the stomach wall and functions as a protector from stomach acid. If this layer is weak or injured, stomach acid will directly hit the stomach wall and cause inflammation.
To determine the diagnosis and cause of gastritis, the following tests may be done:
- Gastric endoscopy, which is to see conditions in the stomach directly through the camera inserted into it. If needed, a gastric biopsy can be done at the same time as this procedure.
- Urea breath test to see Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection by drinking a glass of a special liquid containing radioactive carbon. The patient is then asked to breathe into a special bag to measure the levels of the radioactive substance.
- Examination of the stool for infection or stomach bleeding.
- Examination of barium meal with an X-ray of the stomach.
- Blood tests to see the possibility of anemia or lack of blood.
Gastritis does not always cause symptoms. If so, the following symptoms may appear:
- Nausea to vomiting
- Stomach feels full after eating or quickly full
- A burning feeling, or pain in the pit of the stomach that may get worse or better after eating
These symptoms are caused by various conditions that cause gastritis such as peptic ulcers or stomach infections.
Treatment of gastritis depends on the cause. Treatment is aimed at reducing the amount of stomach acid so that complaints are reduced and giving the stomach wall a chance to heal.
To reduce complaints, drugs are used to reduce or inhibit stomach acid production. The types of drugs that are often used are as follows.
- Antacids – to neutralize stomach acid. This drug can be obtained freely and can reduce pain quickly.
- The drug functions as a coating for the stomach wall, namely sucralfate.
- Histamine-2 (H2) blockers – to reduce stomach acid production. Examples: ranitidine, cimetidine, famotidine.
- proton pump inhibitors (PPI) – also decrease stomach acid production but are more effective than H2 blockers. Examples: omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, and esomeprazole.
If the gastritis is caused by H. pylori infection, the patient is also given antibiotics in addition to proton pump inhibitors. Sufferers also need follow-up visits and tests to ensure the infection has healed.
Almost everyone experiences gastritis in their life. Most cases do not last long and do not require special treatment. However, visit a doctor immediately if:
- Abdominal discomfort lasts for weeks or even months
- Heartburn appears after taking certain drugs, especially painkillers
- Abdominal or heartburn pain that worsens or does not improve despite treatment
- Bloody vomit or stools (black stools like coffee)
- Unintentional weight loss (not due to diet)
Recurrent episodes of gastritis and worsening of symptoms can be prevented through lifestyle changes as follows:
- Avoid spicy, too sour, or gassy foods such as cabbage and mustard greens.
- Reduce or avoid the consumption of coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
- Increase the frequency of eating but in small portions, approximately 5-6x/day.
- Try to schedule regular meals and don’t be late.
- Manage stress well through exercise, relaxation methods, or other activities you enjoy.
The following are things that can cause gastritis:
- Bacterial infection. It can be said that H. pylori bacterial infection is experienced by everyone. However, only some people eventually experience gastritis or disorders of the upper digestive tract. A person’s susceptibility to this bacterial infection may be genetic or caused by lifestyle such as smoking and diet.
- Age. Increasing age increases the risk of gastritis because the stomach wall tends to thin. In addition, adults are also more likely to experience H. pylori infection or autoimmune diseases.
- Use of pain medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid can cause acute or chronic gastritis if consumed excessively or for a long time. Drugs in this class lower the levels of substances that protect the protective mucous lining of the stomach wall.
- Excessive cocaine or alcohol consumption. Cocaine and alcohol can irritate and injure the stomach wall so they can be exposed to stomach acid. Excessive consumption will cause acute gastritis.
- Physical and psychological stress. Physical stress caused by major surgery, serious injury, burns or serious infection can cause acute gastritis. Psychological stress will exacerbate gastritis by increasing stomach acid production.
- Autoimmune gastritis. In this condition, the body’s cells attack the cells that form the stomach wall, which can eventually damage the stomach’s protective lining. Autoimmune gastritis is associated with a deficiency of vitamin B12 and is more common in people who also have other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.
- Other diseases. Gastritis can be related to other medical conditions such as HIV /AIDS, Crohn’s disease, and parasitic infections.
Undetected and untreated gastritis can develop into peptic ulcers and gastric bleeding. Although rare, some cases of chronic gastritis also increase the risk of stomach cancer.