Gastritis is a group of medical conditions that causes the inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis may happen abruptly or it can develop over time. Left untreated, gastritis can lead to ulcers, increasing the chances of stomach cancer. But in most cases, gastritis isn’t serious and improves immediately with medication.
The most common symptoms of gastritis include:
- Sharp pain in the upper abdomen accompanied by repetitive upset stomach
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
Factors that increase your risk of gastritis include:
Bacterial infection: The most common bacteria that causes gastritis is Helicobacter pylori. Lifestyle choices such as stress and smoking increase the vulnerability to the bacterium.
Pain relievers: Painkillers such as ibuprofen can increase the susceptibility to both acute and chronic gastritis. Using these pain relievers regularly causes a diminishing of the protective lining of the stomach. Occasional use of painkillers does not cause gastritis.
Older age: Older adults are more susceptible to gastritis because the stomach lining becomes thinner with age. Older people are more prone to a bacterial infection.
Alcohol abuse: Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, and makes it susceptible to damage from the digestive juices. Excessive alcohol use increases the susceptibility to acute gastritis.
Stress: Major surgeries, injuries, burns or severe infections can increase the risk of acute gastritis.
Autoimmune Gastritis: The body attacks the cells that constitute the stomach lining leading to the removal of the stomach’s protective barrier. Autoimmune gastritis is common in people with other autoimmune disorders. It is also associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.
Other medical conditions: Medical conditions such as HIV, Crohn’s disease or parasitic infections increase the susceptibility to gastritis.
Left untreated, gastritis can lead to more serious complications such as stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding. Chronic gastritis increases the risk of stomach cancer.Eating several small meals instead of a few large ones can help. Avoid foods that irritate your stomach, especially spicy, acidic, fried or fatty food.Stress aggravates the gastritis symptoms. Use coping activities such as meditation and yoga.
Avoid alcohol and use painkillers only when necessary.