Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It can be acute, meaning it comes on suddenly and lasts for a short time, or chronic, meaning it lasts for months or years.
The most common cause of gastritis is infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Other causes of gastritis include:
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Radiation therapy to the abdomen
- Autoimmune diseases, such as pernicious anemia
- Cancer of the stomach
The symptoms of gastritis vary depending on the severity of the inflammation. Mild gastritis may cause no symptoms, while severe gastritis can cause:
- Abdominal pain, especially after eating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment.
The treatment for gastritis depends on the cause. If H. pylori is the cause, antibiotics are usually prescribed. If NSAIDs are the cause, your doctor may recommend taking a different type of pain medication. Other treatments for gastritis may include:
- Over-the-counter medications, such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors
- Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption
In most cases, gastritis can be treated successfully. However, if it is not treated, it can lead to more serious complications, such as stomach ulcers or stomach cancer.
Here are some tips to help prevent gastritis:
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Take NSAIDs only when necessary and for the shortest possible time.
- Get regular checkups and talk to your doctor about your risk of H. pylori infection.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Manage stress levels.