Your stomach is part of the gastrointestinal system and is responsible for breaking down the food you have consumed into finer pieces to make them easily digestible. It does this task first by performing muscular contractions and then treating the food with digestive acids. This important organ of yours resides in between the small intestine and the esophagus and has been lined with cells that stop the digestive acids from irritating its walls. However, when this insulation lining of your stomach becomes vulnerable due to a disease, then acute gastritis can occur.
Acute gastritis is characterized by an unexpected irritation of the lining of the stomach which causes pain in the abdominal area, bleeding and other symptoms associated with the gastrointestinal tract. Chronic gastritis on the other hand progresses at a slower speed and causes different kind of symptoms. Acute gastritis can sometimes be erosive and erode the lining of the stomach. However, the condition does respond to treatment very quickly.
Causes and Risk Factors of Acute Gastritis
Acute gastritis is caused by a defect in the stomach’s lining. Because of this defect, the digestive acids get the chance to inflame the stomach. The lining of the stomach can be damaged by many things.
The causes of acute gastritis according to the National Institute of Health include use of corticosteroids and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), drinking too much alcohol and Helicobacter pylori which is a bacterial infection. Around 50% of the patients of acute gastritis in the US suffer this condition because of the H. pylori.
Acute gastritis can be but is rarely caused by extreme stress, bile reflux, viral infections, Crohn’s disease which is a digestive disorder, surgery, cocaine consumption, being on a ventilator, poisoning, renal failure or autoimmune disorders in which the lining of the stomach is attacked by the immune system itself.
Consistently taking corticosteroids and NSAIDs, undergoing surgery, suffering respiratory, renal or liver failure or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your chances of getting affected by acute gastritis.
Symptoms of Acute Gastritis
It is not uncommon for patients of acute gastritis to not experience any kind of symptoms whatsoever. Patients that do feel the symptoms might experience indigestion, vomiting, pain in the upper abdominal area, nausea, loss of appetite, black stools, feeling full even after eating a little food and bloody vomit that appears like used coffee.
Confirming an acute gastritis without consulting a doctor can be tricky because most of the symptoms that are experienced in this condition are associated with many other diseases as well.
What Should I Do?
If you suffer from pain in the stomach and indigestion, then making changes to your lifestyle and diet can help you in treating the problem yourself. Moreover, you can take over-the-counter medications like antacids for this purpose as well.
See Your GP If:
- You are feeling intense discomfort and pain because of the indigestion that you have been having for over a week.
- The pain is felt after the use of medications like ibuprofen or aspirin.
- You are having bloody stools which might appear black in color or are having bloody vomits.
What Are the Potential Complications of Acute Gastritis?
Although acute gastritis is not a life threatening disease, the underlying cause of this condition can result in complications if treatment is not started at an earlier stage. You can decrease your chances of developing any serious complications by taking the medicines and the diet that the doctor has given you according to your condition.
If you are suffering from acute gastritis then you have a greater chance of getting gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma and gastric cancer. The other complications that can occur if acute gastritis is left untreated are:
- Stomach ulcers
- Greater chance of stomach cancer
- Not getting enough food because of appetite loss and pain
- Bleeding caused by punctured gastric ulcers
- Intense pain or discomfort
- Risk of infection spreading
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
Diagnosis of Acute Gastritis
Diagnosis of acute gastritis is done using various medical tests. The doctor might also ask a number of comprehensive questions about your symptoms to get a better understanding of your condition. The tests that are usually done for diagnosing acute gastritis include CBC or Complete Blood Count, fecal test, endoscopy, gastric tissue biopsy, tests of saliva, breath or blood for H. pylori and X-ray of the digestive system to rule out structural defects.
Treatments of Acute Gastritis
There is a chance that you might recover from acute gastritis without receiving any treatment, but usually treatment is necessary for recovering from this condition. The treatment given to you will be determined by the underlying cause of your stomach pain.
The prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are usually prescribed by doctors for acute gastritis include:
- Antacids like milk of magnesia and Pepto-Bismol neutralize stomach acid
- H2 antagonists like Tagamet and Pepcid to reduce stomach acid production
- Proton pump inhibitors like Pepcid and Prilosec to inhibit stomach acid production
- Antibiotics are only advised if a bacterial infection such as H. pylori is the reason for your condition.
Avoiding the use of corticosteroids and NSAIDs can bring rapid relief to your symptoms as well, but it is necessary to consult the opinion of a doctor before quitting the use of these drugs.
2. Home Care
The forecast for acute gastritis relies heavily on the cause which is responsible for its development. In most cases, this disease responds to treatment, but if the treatment does not go as planned then there is a chance of acute gastritis becoming chronic gastritis, which requires everyday care.
- Acute gastritis symptoms can be markedly reduced by making small adjustments in your lifestyle. For instance, not drinking too much alcohol, refraining from eating acidic, fried or spicy foods, managing stress and eating small and regular meals can bring a lot of relief to you.
- Vitamin B12 shots and taking a diet which includes gluten-free wheat and lactose-free dairy products are also among the treatment options that are available to patients of acute gastritis.
- Managing the risk factors can help you in staying away from acute gastritis. Not drinking much alcohol and limiting the use of NSAIDs are among the lifestyle changes that can help you in this cause.