Substances such as anti-inflammatories, aspirin, Helicobacter pylori, or alcohol can irritate your gastric mucosa, causing stomach pain, nausea, or loss of appetite. Learn how to avoid gastritis.
Gastritis is an inflammation of the gastric mucosa, which is the layer of cells lining the stomach inside, protecting gastric juices’ acidity. Although it is not correct, it is common for the term gastritis to be used as a synonym for dyspepsia (pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen) and symptoms of burning, pressure, or fullness, many times, although not necessarily, related to meals).
Multiple causes can cause gastritis: alcohol, tobacco, food, drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), major surgeries, or infections (Helicobacter pylori bacteria are associated with some types of gastritis). Since the end of the 20th century, H. Pylori has been associated with gastric pathology in one way or another. That is to say, the involvement of this bacterium in gastroduodenal ulcer and as a precursor of some gastric cancer is undoubted, but it also plays a vital role as a cause of gastritis. When its prevalence has been studied, more than half of the population presents data that confirm this germ’s presence in the stomach.
The symptoms are highly variable since each individual can experience them differently. The most common are stomach pain or discomfort, nausea, vomiting, belching, burning, or blood in the vomit or stool.
The diagnosis of gastritis is histological. It is necessary to perform gastroscopy and obtain a gastric mucosa sample by a biopsy to be analyzed. Therefore, the diagnosis of gastritis is not only clinical (it is not based only on the symptoms), but it is necessary to carry out invasive tests (gastroscopy and biopsy) to confirm its existence.
Generally, gastritis treatment includes antacids and other medications that help reduce the acidity in the stomach, thus relieving the symptoms and promoting the healing of the irritation of its wall. If gastritis is related to a disease or infection, that problem will also be treated.
Finally, patients are advised to make changes to their diet, avoiding certain types of food, drink, or drugs that can irritate the stomach wall.
The classification of gastritis is complex, but as a summary, it can be said that they are divided into acute, chronic, and unique forms of gastritis. Next, we will see the characteristics in terms of causes, symptoms, and treatment.
causes of acute gastritis
The main form is acute erosive or hemorrhagic gastritis, which is characterized by erosions in the stomach wall that affect only the mucosa. However, other forms of acute gastritis are not hemorrhagic, and that is due to other causal factors.
Different causes can therefore cause acute gastritis:
- Stress gastritis: patients with serious illnesses (multiple trauma, severe burns, intracranial hypertension), specifically those admitted to intensive care units, may present ulcers or erosions that often manifest as bleeding. These lesions are produced by multiple causes, including the acid hypersecretion of the stomach and the loss of the defense mechanisms of the gastric mucosa. Although less frequent, in these units of critical patients or those with processes that cause blood loss or low blood pressure such as some severe infections ( sepsis), they may present gastritis due to poor blood perfusion, due to a decrease in the flow of the stomach. Its endoscopic appearance is a black mucosa due to necrosis.
- Toxic gastritis: anti-inflammatories, alcohol, cocaine, caustics, enzymes produced by the pancreas, bile reflux. All these factors, through different mechanisms, cause an increase in gastric acid secretion more significant than that which the mucosal cells themselves can tolerate, irritating the mucosa.
- Gastritis is produced by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that infects the stomach’s lining, sometimes causing ulcers or some types of gastritis. In many cases, infected people never develop any symptoms.
Other infectious gastritis is less recognized, such as those caused by cytomegalovirus, HIV, some bacteria such as E Coli, and respiratory viruses. They are usually part of more general syndromes, not just gastric ones.
Acute gastritis symptoms and diagnosis
The symptoms of acute gastritis vary significantly from person to person, and in many cases, patients remain asymptomatic. The most common are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dyspepsia (pain, discomfort, or a sensation of gastric fullness, more common in gastritis caused by H. pylori ), and, in the most severe cases, gastrointestinal bleeding (vomiting with blood or blackish, such as “coffee grounds,” or black, sticky and smelly stools called “melons”). At times, this digestive bleeding can be very subtle, manifesting itself only through mild anemia due to the small blood losses that occur.
The pain of dyspepsia characteristically increases with meals due to the increased production of gastric acid, while it is usually soothed with products such as dairy products and digestive rest.
Diagnosis of acute gastritis
The clinical history and blood tests (where anemia can be seen) help to suspect acute gastritis, but the confirmatory diagnosis of this is histological. It is necessary to analyze a sample of stomach tissue obtained through a microscope under microscope Gastroscopy. In this sample, erosions affect only the mucosa and do not affect the deeper layers of the stomach wall.
Also, by taking gastric mucosa in gastroscopy, an H. Pylori determination can be made through a rapid chemical reaction to obtain a result in minutes.
The gastrointestinal transit with contrast (using a barium porridge) is not currently used, except in exceptional cases.