In simple terms, gastritis can be described as a condition where inflammation occurs in the protective mucosal lining of the stomach. This kind of inflammation is an indication that the protective layer is irritated or damaged because of some reasons. Infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria can cause extensive damage to it. Excessive intake of alcohol, spicy and fatty foods and prolonged use of certain medicines like anti-inflammatory medicines often cause irritation to the stomach lining. Then, there are other causes of chronic gastritis such as pernicious anemia, autoimmune diseases that destroy stomach lining, chronic bile reflux, aging, etc.
Gastritis has two different forms: acute and chronic gastritis. An acute gastritis develops all of a sudden and subsides within a short span of time. Chronic gastritis symptoms are more bothersome because they last for a longer period of time. A few of its symptoms are going to trouble you persistently and other symptoms will reappear from time and again.
The characteristics of all such symptoms are discussed below:
- Dull pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen. In some patients, this pain turns severe after eating, while there are others who experience intense pain in an empty stomach and feel better after eating some food.
- Patients experience nausea and vomiting quite frequently.
- They complain about bloated feeling in the abdomen. In other words, a sense of fullness is experienced in spite of eating only a small amount of food.
- Upset stomach is another symptom that tends to recur again and again.
- Belching is a common occurrence in chronic gastritis.
- Heartburn is considered as worrisome symptom as it worsens at night or after having meals.
- Recurrent hiccups bother these patients a lot.
- A constant sour taste can be felt in the mouth due to a coated tongue.
- Loss of appetite. It happens mainly because of the feeling of fullness and a bad taste in the mouth.
- Prolonged chronic gastritis can lead to unexplained weight loss.
- Occasional stomach bleeding is seen in some patients. Vomiting out blood and black, tarry stools are two of the most common signs of bleeding inside the stomach.
- Too much of internal bleeding can lead to anemia that gives pale skin color, fatigue, tiredness, dizziness, shortness of breath, headache, etc.
When you visit a doctor with chronic gastritis symptoms, he/she will first conduct upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, where a thin tube and camera is inserted through the mouth into the stomach to check the severity of damage in the stomach lining. It is followed by a stool test to check signs of stomach bleeding and a blood test to check red blood cell count. The treatment is largely based upon the underlying cause. Suppose, if you have H. pylori infection, then the bacteria is killed with antibiotics. Antacids are of great help in neutralizing the stomach acid. The production of acid in the stomach is reduced with the help of suitable medicines such as proton pump inhibitors. Acid blockers, also known as H2 blockers, are prescribed to control release of acid inside the digestive tract. Thus, all these medicines promote healing of the stomach lining by reducing the level of stomach acids.
Your doctor will advice you to follow a diet. It should include whole grains such as wheat bran, rice barley, banana, seasonal fruits, leafy vegetables, cucumber, beans and low-fat dairy products. Any such food item that can cause stomach irritation should be eliminated from the diet. They are: caffeine, fried foods, chillies, pickles, chocolates, etc. It is equally important that you take your meals after regular intervals of time. Keep the size of your meals small but have them after a gap of every 2-3 hours. This will keep heartburn and other such uncomfortable symptoms at bay.
Hope this article helped you to develop a better understanding about the symptoms of chronic gastritis. As it has some long-term consequences on your health, it is advisable that you do not neglect it for long and undergo proper treatment as per the guidance of your doctor. Even though it is a chronic problem, you will be able to recover from it quite fast with suitable treatment.