What Is It?
Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. The lining of the stomach often looks red, irritated and swollen, and it may have raw areas that can bleed.
Many different illnesses and irritants -- acting either alone or in combination -- can trigger the inflammation of gastritis. Some of the most common triggers include:
Although gastritis can occur in people of all ages and backgrounds, it is more common in:
Symptoms of gastritis can include:
After reviewing your symptoms, the doctor will ask you about your lifestyle. Specifically, the doctor will want to know:
Your doctor will examine you, paying special attention to your abdomen. He or she may do a digital rectal examination to obtain a small smear of feces or rectal fluids. These will be checked for the presence of blood. Based on your medical history, symptoms and physical examination, your doctor will decide if you should try medical treatment first to see if symptoms improve or if you need further testing. You may need blood tests or a breath test to determine whether you have an H. pylori infection. In some cases, your doctor may want to inspect your stomach lining directly with a procedure called gastroscopy, in which a flexible, lighted instrument is passed into your stomach. During the procedure, your doctor can take a biopsy, a small tissue sample to be examined in the laboratory.
Gastroscopy also is done if:
If you have mild, uncomplicated gastritis, your symptoms probably will improve after only a few days of treatment.
To help prevent gastritis:
If you have mild, uncomplicated gastritis, you may need to:
This approach should help you begin to feel better within a few days, with maximum results after a week or two.
If you still have symptoms, and further testing confirms that you have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will treat you with medications to kill the bacteria. If symptoms still continue, the doctor will recommend further testing, such as esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), which is an examination of the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper intestine.
When To Call a Professional
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have symptoms of gastritis that awaken you from sleep, prevent you from eating, or interfere with your work or school performance. Call your doctor if you use nonprescription antacids or H2 blockers more than twice each week to treat your symptoms.
Call your doctor immediately if you have severe abdominal pain, blood in your vomit, or stools that look black and tarry.
Once your doctor identifies the cause of your gastritis and begins treatment, the outlook for a full recovery is very good. However, if your gastritis is related to smoking or alcohol use, you must be willing to change your lifestyle to eliminate these irritants.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Building 31, Room 9A04
31 Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
American College of Gastroenterology (ACG)
P.O. Box 3099
Arlington, VA 22302