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As an ordinary man, I never paid attention to my health. I ate what I wanted. Basically it was fast food. So I ate until I felt a terrible pain in my stomach at night. I was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with gastritis. While I was lying in the hospital, I learned a lot about this disease. Below I will share this knowledge.
Gastritis is inflammation (irritation) of the stomach lining. This may be caused by many factors including infection, alcohol, particular medications and some allergic and immune conditions. Gastritis can be either acute (with severe attacks lasting a day or two) or chronic (with long-term appetite loss or nausea). In many cases, gastritis has no symptoms (asymptomatic).
Some forms, including chronic atrophic gastritis, have been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. Treatment options include avoiding exposure to known irritants and taking medication to reduce the amount of gastric juices.
Symptoms of gastritis
In many cases, gastritis has no symptoms. Common symptoms can include:
- loss of appetite
- pain in the upper abdomen just under the ribs
- nausea or indigestion
- blood in the vomit
- blood in the bowel actions, if the stomach lining has ulcerated (this turns stools black and is called melaena)
- weight loss.
The stomach is an organ of the digestive system, located in the abdomen just below the ribs. Swallowed food is mixed with gastric juices containing enzymes and hydrochloric acid. The lining of the stomach, called the epithelium, is layered with multiple folds. The epithelium is coated with mucus (gastric mucosa) secreted by special glands. Inflammation caused by gastritis occurs in this lining.
Causes of gastritis
Gastritis can be caused by many different factors, including:
- medication such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
- infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, the organism responsible for the majority of stomach and duodenal ulcers
- protracted vomiting
- overproduction of gastric juices, which is a stress response in some people
- the backflow of bile from the small intestine (duodenum)
- some allergic and immune conditions – for example, pernicious anaemia
- exposure to radiation.
Diagnosis of gastritis
Diagnosing gastritis involves a variety of tests, including:
- Endoscopy – a thin flexible tube is threaded down the oesophagus into the stomach. The endoscope is fitted with a small camera so the physician can look at the stomach lining. If the gastric mucosa is reddened, this may indicate gastritis. A biopsy is needed for confirmation.
- Biopsy – small tissue samples are taken during an endoscopy and tested in a laboratory. The pathologist will look for changes, including the presence of inflammatory cells and epithelium damage.