Acute Gastritis

What is acute gastritis?

Acute gastritis is a common inflammatory condition affecting the inner lining of the stomach. Gastritis can be caused by bacteria or by agents that irritate the stomach's lining such as alcohol, nicotine and some pain medications. The main symptoms are stomach pain and nausea. Symptoms usually come on quickly and last a couple of days. The treatment may include antacids or other medications to reduce acid production of the stomach. Acute gastritis usually resolves quickly when the cause is recognized and treated.

Risks

Adults develop acute gastritis more often than children. Acute gastritis can be caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. In some cases it can be caused by viruses. Other causes are agents that irritate the stomach lining, such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and the regular use of anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin). Acute physical stress, such as an infection or surgery, can lead to acute gastritis.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms may include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and heartburn. Stomach pain usually presents itself as burning pain in the upper part of the belly.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and the clinical examination. Other tests may include endoscopy (a procedure involving a long tube with a camera looking into the upper digestive tract), which allows for taking samples of the stomach lining. An infection with Helicobacter pylori (a bacteria) can be detected through blood, stool or breath tests. They can also be seen in samples taken from the stomach lining.

Treatment

The treatment may include antacids or other medications to reduce acid production of the stomach. If there is proof of a bacterial infection, treatment may include antibiotics.

Prevention

Reducing the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and ceasing to smoke may reduce the risk of acute gastritis.