What is Gastritis
What should I know about the stomach?
The stomach, located between the esophagus and the duodenum, is a 25-cm long
J-shaped pouch divided into three main sections: the fundus, the body and the antrum. The mucosa is covered with coiled sections of tissue called known as “gastric folds” and is lined with a thick layer of gastric mucus. It contains several glands that produce and secrete acids and proteins which break down the food we eat.
What are the symptoms of gastritis?
There are many possible non-specific symptoms:
- Abdominal pain, especially in the upper part of the abdomen
- Heartburn, which can worsen with food intake
- Indigestion, full or bloated sensation after a light meal
- Nausea, vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Blood in vomit (the color of coffee) or stool (black)
Severe inflammation of the gastric muscoa can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, leading to a risk of vitamin B12 and iron deficiency
What are the risk factors and causes of gastritis?
Many factors and diseases can harm the stomach mucosa and increase the risk of developing gastritis. The main cause of gastritis is infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
Other possible causes include:
- Use of certain medicines, such as corticoids, or long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Stress or anxiety
- Use of tobacco or alcohol consumption
Other less frequent causes exist, such as bile reflux or autoimmune gastritis, which occurs when a patient develops antibodies that attack his or her stomach cells (Biermer's disease).
How is gastritis diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based on the symptoms described by the patient, combined with a digestive tract endosopy. This exam consists in introducing through the mouth a flexible tube equipped with a tiny camera that will assess the severity of the gastritis. The instrument takes targeted biopsy samples from the mucosa in order to determine whether Helicobacter pylori is present, and verify the degree of inflammation in the mucosa.
What are the treatment options for gastritis?
Treatment for gastritis depends on its cause. If Helicobacter pylori is found, it must be eradicated. Treatment consisting of ten days of antibiotics combined with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) is rapid and effective 90 percent of the time.
If symptoms are light, relief can be found in medicines that neutralize or reduce gastric acid production. Commonly known as antacids, these include histamine H2-receptor blockers (H2 blockers) and proton pump inhibitors.
Additional recommendations include reducing stress, giving up tobacco and alcohol, and lowering coffee and tea intake.
Autoimmune gastritis requires regular monitoring of the stomach and long-term vitamin B12 injections.
- 90 percent of gastritis cases are caused by Helicobacter pylori
Helicobacter pylori is extremely prevalent in developing countries, where it infects 70 to 80 percent of the population
- In 1 percent of cases, gastritis left unmonitored can turn into cancer