What is it?
Gastritis occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed after it’s been damaged. It’s a common condition with a wide range of causes. For most people, gastritis isn’t serious and improves quickly if treated – but if not, it can last for years.
What are the symptoms?
Gastritis is when the stomach lining becomes inflamed. This can happen when something – such as certain bacteria or medicines – irritates the lining. The irritation may also cause the stomach lining to erode (wear down) and become thinner. Not everyone with gastritis will experience symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include: * a burning pain in your upper stomach area (such as in heartburn) – which may improve or worsen with eating * nausea * vomiting * loss of appetite * bloating and burping While most gastritis symptoms aren’t serious, it’s especially important you see your doctor if you have any of the following: * gastritis symptoms that last more than a week * vomiting blood or black, tarry substance (dried blood) * blood in your stool (poop), or stool that is black These symptoms can suggest stomach ulcers or bleeding, or that there is another serious health underlying health condition. While rare, gastritis can also increase the risk of stomach cancer. To confirm the cause of your symptoms, your doctor is likely to talk to you and examine you. Your doctor may also ask you to have some tests, such as blood tests, breath tests or stool tests. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who is an expert in the digestive tract (gastroenterologist). You may also be asked to have an endoscopy. An endoscopy involves inserting a flexible tube with a tiny camera down your throat into your upper digestive tract to have a look for signs of inflammation and ulcers. This is usually done with some sedation. If you suspect you have gastritis – especially if the symptoms are lasting longer than a week or you suspect blood in your stool – see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Eat smaller, more-frequent meals. If you experience frequent indigestion, eat smaller meals more often to help ease the effects of stomach acid.
- Consider switching pain relievers. If you use pain relievers that increase your risk of gastritis, ask your doctor whether acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may be an option for you. This medication is less likely to aggravate your stomach problem.
- Avoid irritating foods. Avoid foods that irritate your stomach, especially those that are spicy, acidic, fried or fatty.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can irritate the mucous lining of your stomach.
Things to watch out for
Gastritis can be easily treated at home using over-the-counter medications, such as antacids. GP should be contacted if the symptoms last longer than a week or you’re vomiting blood.