Gastritis is a general term that refers to a group of conditions, each identifiable by inflammation, erosion or irritation in the lining of the stomach. It can appear in a number of different forms, some more serious than others and requiring different methods of treatment.
Whether you have gastritis or not, knowing precisely what it is, what symptoms it can cause and how to go about treating it is important to preventing and curing it. In this article, we’ll be covering everything you need to know.
Types of Gastritis :
When it comes to gastritis, there are generally three known types, each ranging in severity and pathophysiology. They are:
Acute Gastritis :
Acute erosive gastritis is usually identified by surface necrosis located in the gastrointestinal tract. The term necrosis refers to dead cell matter, killed as the result of damage to mucosal defences in the area.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also contribute to acute gastritis. These inhibit the action of enzymes known as cyclooxygenase-1, or COX-1, which is responsible for the creation of signalling molecules in the stomach. The effect of this inhibition is an increase in the probability that peptic ulcers form, and therefore of gastritis developing.
NSAIDs, which include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and others, reduce the quantity of another substance, prostaglandin, which works to protect the stomach. Excess usage of NSAIDs can lead to gastritis for these reasons.
Acute gastritis is typically a lot more sudden than chronic gastritis. It involves a sudden inflammation in the lining of the stomach rather than a slow, gradual swelling.
Chronic Gastritis :
Chronic gastritis refers to a wider range of problems which form in areas of the gastric tissues.
The role of the immune system is to synthesise proteins and antibodies in order to fight infection in the body. In some conditions, though, the body can mistakingly target the stomach as a foreign substance, dealing with it as it would deal with an infection. It begins to make antibodies to attack the stomach and/or its lining.
In other cases, bile can exit the stomach through the pyloric valve, damaging neighbouring tissues and also leading to instances of chronic gastritis. Gastritis can also arise as a result of other medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS and liver/kidney failure.
Another characteristic feature of gastritis is metaplasia - an abnormal change in the nature of tissues. Metaplasia typically occurs alongside severe damage of the gastric glands. In such cases, these glands tend to atrophy and so the body replaces them with mucous glands.
When this happens, gastric ulcers may begin to develop. It isn’t known whether these ulcers are the cause or consequence of metaplasia, but they remain a common occurrence where cases of metaplasia arise.
Intestinal metaplasia usually starts as a response to injuries in other areas of the stomach. Gastric mucous cells change in an attempt to replace damaged tissue, resulting in abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract.
If metaplasia progresses, small-intestinal tissues can morph to match the appearance of the large intestine more closely than they do of the small intestine, resulting in a number of functional complications.
Gastritis Symptoms :
Oftentimes, sufferers of gastritis experience no symptoms at all, making it difficult to identify and diagnose their condition. One of the most common symptoms, though, is upper-central abdominal pain. It often arises a dull, vague, burning or aching sensation but can occur anywhere from the left side of the abdomen to the back.
There are a number of other symptoms that can show up, too. These include:
- Loss or lack of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting (which could show up as a clear, green, yellow or even bloody substance varying based upon the severity of the inflammation)
How Gastritis Is Diagnosed :
The diagnosis of gastritis usually begins with a review of the patient’s medical history. A thorough physical examination will also be conducted, as well as any of the following testing methods:
1. Upper endoscopy: An endoscope is a thin tube which contains a microscopic camera. During an endoscopy, an endoscope will be inserted into the patient’s mouth and by fed down into their stomach. There, it can be used to closely observe the lining of the stomach. Once inserted, the doctor will then use the endoscope to identify inflammation. They may then perform a biopsy if necessary - a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed and sent for testing.
2. Blood Test: The doctor may also choose to perform various blood tests, checking the patient’s red blood cell count to determine whether he/she has anaemia. They may also choose to screen for H. pylori infections and/or pernicious anaemia in an attempt to identify gastric conditions and their severity.
3. Fecal Occult Blood Test: A fecal occult blood test can be used to test for blood in stools, which is a common sign of gastritis.
How Is Gastritis Treated?
The specific treatment for gastritis can vary based upon a number of factors. For that reason, each individual case can be quite different in terms of prognosis. Generally speaking, though, treatment for gastritis usually involves:
- The patient taking antacids and other medications such as proton pump inhibitors or H-2 blockers in order to reduce stomach acid
- Avoiding hot, spicy and acidic foods
- If the gastritis is being caused by a H. pylori infection, doctors will prescribe a course of several different antibiotics as well as an acid-blocking drug used for heartburn
- In cases where the gastritis is being caused by pernicious anaemia, shots of vitamin B12 can be given to counteract it
- Allergenic foods such as lactose, gluten and/or wheat should also be removed from the patient’s diet, since these can cause irritation in the lining of the stomach
Usually, once the underlying problem has been dealt with, gastritis will also begin to clear up. You should, of course, always consult your doctor before beginning or terminating any treatments for gastritis.
Combatting Gastritis With Your Diet :
Although medical intervention is and should remain the first-line method of preventing and lessening the effects of gastritis, there are a number of dietary changes that can also be used to help.
Generally speaking, gastritis-combatting diets work to lessen food substances that contribute to the excess build-up of stomach acid. To finish, let’s run through some of the best nutrition-based ways that patients can tackle gastric issues with their diet.
Foods Recommended For Patients With Gastritis :
The following foods should be implemented into your diet if you’re trying to reduce the symptoms of gastritis:
- Foods that are high in fibre, including apples, porridge oats, broccoli, beans and carrots
- Foods that have a low acidity content
- Foods that are more alkaline, such as cruciferous green vegetables
- Non-carbonated drinks
- Non-caffeinated drinks
- Low-fat animal products, such as turkey breast, chicken and fish products
- Fermented foods like kombucha, yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, since these have a high antibiotic content
Foods To Steer Clear of If You Have Gastritis :
If you have gastritis, there are a number of foods that you should seek to reduce or eliminate from your diet entirely. These are generally foods that have a high-fat content, since these can make inflammation worse and aggravate symptoms gastritis-related symptoms.
The foods you should aim to avoid if you’re suffering from gastritis include:
- Coffee and caffeinated drinks
- Acidic ingredients, like tomatoes and processed foods
- Fruit juice
- Fatty foods such as butter, bacon and chocolate
- Fried foods
- Carbonated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Allergenic and/or symptomatic foods
Maintain An Anti-Inflammatory Diet :
As discussed previously, gastritis is a condition caused by excessive inflammation in the stomach lining. Any diet that seeks to mitigate inflammation can also work to provide relief from symptoms.
Research into the gastric-related benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet is not conclusive, but there’s no doubt that diet plays a pivotal role in the severity of the symptoms of gastritis. According to Harvard Health, the following foods can work to fight inflammation throughout the body:
- refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
- French fries and other fried foods
- soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
- margarine, shortening, and lard
Supplements For Gastritis :
There are two herbal supplements made by Grocare which help in gastritis treatment: Acidim® and Xembran®.
Acidim® helps balance the pH of the entire intestinal systems & abdomen seamlessly.
Xembran® is a bacteriostatic to eliminate H pylori and other harmful bacteria from the body.
Acidim® regularizes the amount of acid in the stomach. Thus, digestion is completed. Acidim® also increases gastric motility, thus allowing digested food to get expelled from the stomach. Hence, food doesn’t ferment and release gas, the stomach is empty and the discomfort ends.
Xembran® stops growth as well as kills H. pylori in the stomach. Xembran® works along with the body’s defense mechanism to eliminate the harmful bacteria. Acidim® and Xembran® together help in gastritis treatment and also help to repair and restore the stomach lining without any side effects.
Gastritis is an inconvenient condition to come down with at the best of times. At its worst, gastritis can be complicated, painful and restrictive.
Knowing exactly what gastritis is is the first step a patient can take towards improving their condition. Knowledge combined with informed action and medical guidance is the best weapons in your armoury when it comes to fighting and eradicating gastritis once and for all.