Irritation or infection of the mucous membrane of the stomach is known as 'gastritis'. Damaged or injured mucous membrane of the stomach causes inflammation and pain. Inflamed lining of the stomach affects the number of glandular cells and the size of the gastric glands present in the stomach. If the mucous membrane gets severely damaged or injured; gastric glandular cells may completely vanish or the size of the gastric glands may get reduced. This condition is quite common in old people. One may experience acute (sudden) inflammation of the stomach or chronic (lasting for years or even for a lifetime) inflammation.
Acids like hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes are present in the stomach. The mucous membrane protects the underlying tissues from getting damaged by alkaline and acidic substances in the stomach. When the stomach lining is irritated or infected, erosion of stomach acids against the protective covering of the stomach causes pain. Inflamed stomach is a common ailment which can be easily cured.
Certain lifestyle changes help lower the symptoms of stomach inflammation. If the person does not improve his/her lifestyle, then chronic atrophic gastritis can eventually lead to health complications like stomach ulcer or even stomach cancer. Inflammation of the stomach lining leads to diminished production of acid, enzymes, and mucus. The ability of the stomach to produce digestive juices can be severely affected or completely lost over a period, if proper precautions are not taken.
- Viral infection
- Excessive smoking
- Alcohol addiction
- Traumatic injuries
- Critical illnesses
- Severe burns
- Excessive consumption of cocaine
- Major surgery
- Poor diet leading to excess stomach acids
- Bacterial infection like Helicobacter pylori infection
- Infections due to viruses, parasites, fungi, and bacteria other than H. pylori
- Digestive diseases and disorders, for example, Crohn's disease and pernicious anemia
- Excessive stress
- Prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Advil, Aspirin or other pain killers.
- Excessive consumption of cortisone, a steroid hormone used commonly to treat inflammation of tendons, bursa, and joints.
- Antibodies are supposed to fight against fungal or bacterial infections. In autoimmune disorders, these antibodies may attack the stomach lining leading to inflammation of the lining.
- Sore tongue
- Nausea, vomiting
- Black stools
- Blood in stools
- Blood in vomit
- Bloating, diarrhea
- Fever, weight loss
- Loss of appetite, weakness
- Burning sensation in stomach.
- Abdominal cramping, stomach pain and discomfort.
- A feeling of stomach becoming full after consuming only a small amount of food.
- Bleeding or ulcers in case of erosive gastritis
- In erosive gastritis, there may not be severe stomach inflammation but still it can significantly destroy the stomach lining.
- Sometimes, gastritis does not exhibit any symptoms.
The aforementioned symptoms of gastritis are almost similar to the symptoms of gastroenteritis, a term used for infection or irritation of the digestive tract, particularly the stomach and intestine. Gastroenteritis, characterized by inflammation of the intestines and stomach is commonly known as stomach flu, although the influenza virus is not associated with this illness. Stomach flu typically lasts about three days but it can lead to complications like dehydration.
Blood test, stool test, etc. help detect H. pylori infection. Barium X-ray helps get a clear image of the digestive tract. Endoscopy and a biopsy of the stomach may be performed to examine the condition of the stomach, in case of severe or chronic gastritis.
- Acute gastritis can be relieved by discontinuing the use of those substances which are responsible for inflamed stomach. Avoiding solid foods for 2-3 days and opting for a healthy liquid diet help improve the condition.
- To fight the Helicobacter pylori infection, a combination of anti-secretory agents (proton pump inhibitors:PPI) and anti-microbial agents (antibiotics), such as bismuth subsalicylate or ranitidine bismuth citrate are used. They help destroy the bacteria and relieve the pain.
- To neutralize the effect of acids, antacids such as Mylanta and Maalox are prescribed. Doctors might prescribe acid blockers such as Ranitidine (Zantac) and Cimetidine (Tagamet) to minimize the production of acid in the stomach, when antacids don't work.
- Deficiency of vitamin C and vitamin B12 is usually noticed in the patients of inflamed stomach. So a gastritis diet, rich in vitamins and minerals is recommended as a part of the treatment for stomach inflammation.
- Spicy, greasy and fried food items should be avoided. Avoiding coffee (caffeine), carbonated drinks, smoking and alcohol, helps avoid inflammation of the lining. You can keep the list of gastritis foods to avoid handy.
So, it is safe to conclude that healthy and nutritious diet is necessary for accelerating the healing process and decreasing the risk of inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Those who are suffering from this problem, should religiously follow the instructions of the doctor. Prompt and proper treatment helps lower the symptoms of gastritis. Prompt treatment of H. pylori infection reduces the chances of peptic ulcer disease, gastric cancer, MALT lymphoma, etc. Changing bad eating habits and leading a healthy lifestyle is essential to prevent serious health complications. Regular exercise and stress-free lifestyle help maintain overall health and fitness.