What is chronic gastritis?
Chronic gastritis is a condition where the stomach lining becomes inflamed for long periods of time (months or years). This inflammation typically occurs due to a stomach infection by bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori in combination with the regular use of painkillers, which degrade the stomach lining. The main symptom is pain felt in the area above the stomach.
The most common causes of gastritis include regular use of painkillers like ibuprofen, bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, and having other conditions that weaken the protective layer of the stomach lining, such as acid reflux, etc.. Other causes such as persistent stress, or a weakened immune system can also affect the healing ability of the stomach lining.
Typical symptoms include epigastric pain (pain felt directly above the stomach), loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
Diagnosis of the condition is usually confirmed by a procedure called an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, where a long tube equipped with a camera looks through the digestive tract. In order to determine if antibiotics are appropriate, a lab test for Helicobacter pylori is often suggested.
Chronic gastritis is usually treated with proton pump inhibitors and antacids. These treatments aim to neutralize the stomach acids, and help the stomach lining heal. Antibiotics are usually used to eradicate Helicobacter pylori if found during the diagnosis.
Managing stress, avoiding excess coffee and alcohol consumption, as well as avoiding smoking cigarettes may help in preventing chronic gastritis. Physicians may recommend lower dosage of pain medication or switching to substances with a gentler impact on the stomach lining.