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What is gastritis?

Gastritis is inflammation or irritation of the lining of your stomach.

What increases my risk for gastritis?

  • Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacterial infection

  • NSAIDs, aspirin, or steroid medicine

  • Use of tobacco products or alcohol

  • Stress

  • Diabetic gastroparesis, or an autoimmune disorder such as Crohn disease

  • An injury to your stomach or small intestine

  • A toxic object you swallowed, such as a button battery

What are the signs and symptoms of gastritis?

  • Stomach pain, burning, or tenderness when you press on it, or stomach fullness and tightness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Loss of appetite, or feeling full quickly when you eat

  • Bad breath

  • Fatigue or feeling more tired than usual

How is gastritis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms and examine you. You may need tests to confirm that you have an H pylori infection. You may also need any of the following:

  • An endoscopy is used to look for problems in your stomach. Your healthcare provider will use an endoscope (tube with a light and camera on the end) during the procedure. He may take a sample from your stomach to be tested.

  • Blood tests may be used to show an infection.

  • A breath test may show if H pylori is causing your gastritis. You will be given a liquid to drink. Then you will breathe into a bag. Your healthcare provider will measure the amount of carbon dioxide in your breath. Extra amounts may mean you have an H pylori infection.

  • A bowel movement sample may be tested for bacteria that may be causing your gastritis.

How is gastritis treated?

Your symptoms may go away without treatment. Symptoms caused by a toxic object such as a button battery need immediate treatment. You may need treatment if your symptoms are severe or become chronic. Treatment will depend on what is causing your gastritis. Your healthcare provider may recommend changes to the medicines you take. Medicines may be given to help treat a bacterial infection or decrease stomach acid.

What can I do to manage or prevent gastritis?

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine can damage blood vessels and make it more difficult to manage your gastritis. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can make your gastritis worse. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to stop drinking.

  • Do not take NSAIDs or aspirin unless directed. These and similar medicines can cause irritation. It may help to take NSAIDs with food, but you may not be able to take them at all.

  • Do not eat foods that cause irritation. Foods such as oranges and salsa can cause burning or pain. Eat a variety of healthy foods. Examples include fruits (not citrus), vegetables, low-fat dairy products, beans, whole-grain breads, and lean meats and fish. Try to eat small meals, and drink water with your meals. Do not eat for at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

  • Keep batteries and similar objects out of the reach of children. Babies often put items in their mouths to explore them. Button batteries are easy to swallow and can cause serious damage. Keep the battery covers of electronic devices such as remote controls taped closed. Store all batteries and toxic materials where children cannot get to them. Use childproof locks to keep children away from dangerous materials.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You develop chest pain or shortness of breath.

  • You vomit blood.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have black or bloody bowel movements.

  • You have severe stomach or back pain.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.

  • You have new or worsening symptoms, even after treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

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. 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.

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