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How Gastritis Can Harm Your Stomach

How Gastritis Can Harm Your Stomach

Gastritis refers to a group of stomach conditions that affect the gastrointestinal system. Gastritis may affect a person suddenly, or it may happen gradually over a time period. In some cases, chronic gastritis may lead to stomach ulcers or increase the risk of stomach cancer. However, in most people, gastritis does not cause any serious problems. With early intervention and treatment, the condition improves quickly. Gastritis may be acute or chronic.

  • Acute gastritis refers to a sudden onset of inflammation of the stomach lining, called the gastric mucosa. When viewed through the endoscopy, the lining appears reddened, and the biopsy specimens show an increase in the levels of acute inflammatory cells, the leucocytes.
  • Chronic gastritis refers to a low-grade inflammation that is persistent and causes damage to the stomach lining. As a result, the gastric mucosa becomes thin, and the specimen may show an increase in the inflammatory cells with an immune response, the lymphocytes.

How does gastritis affect the stomach?

Gastritis means inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis is a condition that causes any inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the mucosal lining of the stomach. The stomach is protected internally by a layer of mucus or mucosal barrier called the gastric mucosa. It protects the stomach from the acids secreted by the gastric glands that help to digest the food taken. Sometimes too much acid, certain drugs, or any harmful microorganism can damage this lining mucosa or mucosal barrier leading to swelling and irritation of the stomach. Chronic infection or inflammation of the stomach lining may lead to severe ulcers, bleeding, or sometimes cancers.

A number of disease conditions can increase the risk of gastritis, including chronic inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. Chronic alcoholism and chain-smoking tobacco chewing also cause gastritis.

What are the types of gastritis?

There are two main types of gastritis:

Erosive gastritis: this condition is characterized by inflammation and erosion of the stomach lining. The lining may show small breaks in the surface lining called erosions. This condition is also called reactive gastritis. The most common causes of erosive gastritis are alcohol, smoking, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, viral or bacterial infections, stress, injuries, etc.

Non-erosive gastritis: this condition is characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining without any erosion of the mucosal lining.

Causes of Gastritis

Gastritis is caused by any damage or injury to the mucosal lining of the stomach. Various factors can trigger this problem, such as:

  • There is gastric irritation due to excessive alcohol, chronic stress, frequent vomiting, stress, long-term pain, and anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori infection is one of the common causes of gastritis. It is one of the bacteria that reside in the mucosal lining of the stomach. Sometimes the bacteria might get overreactive and cause stomach infection. If ignored in the early stages or left untreated, it can lead to ulcers and may increase the risk of stomach cancers.
  • A reflux of bile from the small intestine into the stomach is called bile reflux. Usually, the bile is secreted into the small intestine through the pylorus. It is essential for the digestion of cholesterol and fatty foods. In the case of bile reflux, there is a backflow of bile from the pylorus to the stomach.
  • Gastrointestinal infections are caused by certain parasites, bacteria, and viruses such as Giardiasis, E.coli, Salmonella, Norovirus, Rotavirus, etc.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease and type 1 diabetes, in which the body’s cells attack the healthy cells that are lining the stomach.

Also Read 10 Magical Tips to Solve Gastritis Problems Naturally

Sign and symptoms

Many people with gastritis do not show any symptoms. The symptoms are usually similar to simple gastric disturbances or indigestion. Some of the signs and symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Epigastric pain or discomfort
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or dysentery
  • Fullness and heaviness of abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting blood or bleeding per rectum
  • Regurgitation of food and heartburn
  • Black, tarry stools

Risk factors

  • Factors that increase the risk of gastritis are:
  • Bacterial infections
  • Excessive smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Overuse of pain relievers
  • Stress from chronic illness or surgery
  • Cancer treatment like chemotherapy
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
  • Other diseases such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and parasitic infections.

Complications

If the gastritis is left untreated, it may lead to stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding and increase the risk of stomach cancer. Some of the complications of chronic gastritis are:

  • Anemia: H. pylori can cause gastritis or stomach ulcers that bleed, leading to decreased red blood cells.
  • Pernicious anemia: Autoimmune gastritis can affect the absorption of vitamin B12 leading to vitamin B12 deficiency and increased risk of pernicious anemia.
  • Peritonitis: Gastritis leads to peptic ulcers. The ulcers cause a breakage in the lining of the stomach. Sometimes an ulcer can lead to rupture of the stomach and cause spilling or leakage of stomach contents into the abdomen leading to peritonitis, sepsis, and sometimes shock and death.
  • Stomach cancer: Gastritis caused by H. pylori infection and some autoimmune disorders can cause hyperplasia of the stomach cells.

Warning signs

Some of the signs of gastritis that need immediate medical attention are:

  • Bleeding per rectum
  • Blood vomiting
  • Extreme weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurring stomach infections

How Is Gastritis Diagnosed?

Gastritis is diagnosed by the signs and symptoms along with the personal and family history, physical evaluation, and some of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Upper endoscopy to get a good view and study of the stomach and its lining and to detect any infection, inflammation, or growth. Sometimes a biopsy is also done along with the endoscopy.
  • Blood tests to check for anemia, antibodies titer, or any signs of infections.
  • Breath test to detect an H. pylori infection.
  • A stool test may be done to check for signs of H. pylori bacteria in the stool.
  • Fecal occult blood test to check for the presence of blood in the stool

Treatment for Gastritis

Treatment for gastritis depends on the symptoms and the cause. In the conventional system of medicine, the main modes of treatment are:

  • Antibiotics to treat any infection.
  • Antacids to reduce exposure of mucosa to stomach acid.
  • Histamine (H2) blockers to decrease the production of stomach acid.
  • Proton pump inhibitors to reduce the amount of production of stomach acid and to treat the acid reflux.
  • Vitamin B12 supplements to treat pernicious anemia.

Prevention and management of gastritis

For preventing and treating gastritis, it is better not to ignore any symptoms if they keep recurring and disturb the quality of life. However, most of the time, gastritis can be treated successfully if identified and managed early.

  • H. pylori is one of the most common causes of gastritis. It is a contagious infection and can be easily transmitted. The risk of H. pylori infection can be reduced by practicing good hand hygiene.

Other preventive measures for gastritis include:

  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Drinking lots of water and fluids
  • Avoiding fried fatty foods
  • Regular eating habits
  • Avoid smoking and caffeine
  • Managing stress through regular exercise and relaxing activities
  • Avoid unnecessary use of steroids and painkillers
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Try to avoid going to bed or lying down immediately after a meal

Homeopathic medicines for gastritis

Homeopathic medicines can be used to manage the symptoms of gastritis and other digestion-related problems without any harmful side effects. There are many clinically proven medicines to reduce the symptoms associated with gastritis, such as nausea, burning, belching, hemorrhages, ulcers, etc. Some homeopathic remedies are also effective in the de-addiction of smoking and alcohol and in treating the harmful effects of such addictions. Homeopathic medicines for gastritis not only help to relieve the problem but also prevents the recurrence. Homeopathic products can be purchased online through various websites. Schwabe India’s Alpha Acid, Alpha DP, Alpha Liv tonic, Dizester herbal, Dizester, and Biofungin are a few homeopathic specialty products that are proven to be effective in easing the symptoms of gastritis and its related stomach troubles.

Some of the frequently prescribed homeopathic remedies for gastritis are Carbo vegetabilis, Lycopodium, Natrum carbonicum, Nux vomica, Pulsatilla nigricans, Antimonium crudum, Arsenicum album, Bryonia alba, Cinchona officinalis, Colocynthis, Magnesia phosphorica, Natrum phosphoricum, Phosphorus, Antimonium crudum, Argentum Nitricum, Nux Vomica, Ipecac, etc.

Summary

Gastritis is one of the most common but treatable stomach problems. It is most often confused with indigestion and is mostly asymptomatic. If present, the common symptoms are epigastric or upper abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, loss of appetite, etc. Gastritis affects the stomach lining or the mucosa by causing inflammation and damage to the lining mucosal barrier. Depending on the causative factor, it can be either an acute or chronic condition. The most common causes are H. pylori infections, alcoholism, smoking, overuse of painkillers and steroids, etc. When left untreated, it may lead to anemia, peptic ulcers, and rarely stomach cancer. Gastritis can be managed by simple lifestyle and dietary changes with suitable medications. Homeopathy can be a safe alternative for a healthy recovery without any harmful side effects.

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