Gastritis is a common condition that is diagnosed hundreds of thousands of times each year around the United States. It occurs when there is some type of inflammation or irritation of the stomach lining.
It can be a painful condition and is often accompanied with the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Upset stomach and loss of appetite
- Bloody vomit or stool
Every patient is different and the symptoms can vary considerably. In fact, some patients experience little to no symptoms at all before being diagnosed.
What are the common causes of gastritis?
There are some obvious causes, such as excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug usage, but gastritis can also be brought on by violent episodes of vomiting, stress, or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDS.
Other common causes are:
- Helicobacter pylori bacterial infection (H. pylori)
- Taking potassium or iron supplements
- Acid reflux
- Crohn’s Disease
- Physical stress from a major surgery or widespread infection
- Chronic B12 deficiency
- X-ray treatments for abdominal cancer
Wait a minute…how did I get Helicobacter pylori in my system?
One of the most common causes of gastritis is the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection.
While some experts disagree as to exactly how someone contracts H. pylori, it is commonly believed that it happens in one of two ways:
Either you put something in your mouth that has come in contact with an infected person’s vomit, spit, or saliva.
You put something in your mouth that was handled by an infected person who did not properly wash their hands after a bowel movement, and thus passed along traces of fecal matter.
The real downside is that once the H. pylori bacteria enters your body, it is likely to remain there unless you seek treatment to cure the infection.
So how is H. pylori typically treated?
There are two critical factors that must be accounted for when it comes to treating H. pylori gastritis:
First of all, the bacteria has to be completely eradicated from your body. Antibiotics are typically used to destroy the bacteria.
Secondly, your stomach lining needs to heal in order to alleviate your symptoms and restore your lining back to full functionality. In order to accomplish this, we may use drugs to disable the cells that produce stomach acid (known as proton pump inhibitors), or drugs that coat and soothe your stomach lining to prevent further damage and promote healing.
A common therapy is a 10- to 14-day treatment known as triple therapy. While it can be somewhat inconvenient, it is a proven treatment that we will talk to you about during your appointment (if H. pylori is proven to be the cause of your gastritis).
What should I do if I think I have gastritis?
Until blood tests or an upper endoscopy is performed, your diagnosis will not be confirmed. However, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it is important to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist as soon as possible, as it could be gastritis or something more serious.
If you are in or around Valley Stream or Glendale, NY, and are experiencing any kind of stomach or gastrointestinal issues, please give our location nearest you a call today.