What is gastritis?
Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of your stomach. The stomach lining helps prevent acids from damaging your stomach.
What causes gastritis?
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori): These bacteria are the most common cause of gastritis.
- NSAIDs: NSAID medicines are usually taken for pain, swelling, or fever. They can wear down the lining of your stomach if you take too many or take them over a long period of time.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can cause gastritis if you drink it often or over a long period of time.
What are the signs and symptoms of gastritis?
You may have gastritis but not feel sick. You may notice any of the following:
- Your stomach hurts, burns, or is tender when you press on it.
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- You do not feel like eating, or you feel full quickly when you do eat. Your stomach feels full and tight.
- You have bad breath.
- You feel more tired than usual.
How is gastritis diagnosed?
Your caregiver will ask about your signs and symptoms and examine you. You may need any of the following:
- Endoscopy and biopsy: A scope is used to see the lining of your stomach. A scope is a long, bendable tube with a light and camera on the end. Caregivers look for problems with how your stomach works. A biopsy sample may be taken from your stomach and sent to a lab for tests.
- Blood tests: You may need blood taken to test for an infection. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or an IV.
- Breath test: Caregivers test your breath to see what is causing your gastritis. Ask your caregiver for more information about this test.
- Bowel movement test: A sample of your bowel movement is sent to a lab to find out if bacteria are causing your gastritis.
How is gastritis treated?
Treatment will depend on what is causing your gastritis. You may be given the following medicines:
- Antacids: These medicines help decrease stomach acid. You may need a doctor's order for these medicines.
- Antibiotics: This medicine helps treat an infection caused by bacteria.
How can I manage my gastritis?
- Avoid NSAIDs: They can irritate your stomach. It may help to take them with food, but you may not be able to take NSAIDs at all.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can make your gastritis worse. Talk to your caregiver if you need help to stop drinking.
- Do not eat foods that bother your stomach: Avoid spicy foods. Do not eat right before you go to sleep.
What are the risks of gastritis?
- Gastritis may happen suddenly, or it may be a long-term problem. You may get a perforation (hole) in your stomach, which can be life-threatening.
- Without treatment, your symptoms may not go away or may become worse. Some types of gastritis may destroy your stomach lining. This may affect how your body digests food. Your stomach may become blocked. This can cause pain. If irritation becomes worse, you may develop ulcers (tears in your stomach lining). Gastritis can cause stomach bleeding.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- You have a fever.
- Your signs and symptoms do not improve with treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have severe stomach or back pain.
- You vomit blood.
- You have black or bloody bowel movements.
- You develop chest pain or shortness of breath.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.