Every now and then, your stomach ache is more than just a stomach ache. Gastritis is a painful stomach condition in which the lining of the stomach becomes swollen, irritated, or begins to erode away completely. This can leave you with symptoms such as nausea, abdominal bloating and pain, vomiting, indigestion, a burning feeling between meals or at night, recurring hiccups, black stool, loss of appetite or more. In some patients, however, their gastritis is asymptomatic, meaning it causes no symptoms at all.
Commonly, we agree on four main causes of gastritis:
- Infection: Viruses and bacteria can flare up when you get sick with things like colds flus and other infections. These flare ups can be quite damaging the stomach lining. This type of gastritis tends to pass once the illness does, but most experts agree that once you have had an infection that caused gastritis, you are more likely to get one again in the future than someone who has never had one.
- Reflux: Acid reflux happens when stomach acid works its way back up through the esophagus. This is what most people think of when they think of reflux. There is another type of reflux, however, that is more closely associated with gastritis. This type is called bile reflux. With bile reflux, the bile tract backflows and dumps bile into the stomach instead of pushing it down the bile tract. This can lead to erosion of the inner lining and problems with properly digesting food.
- Anemia: Not every form of anemia is the same and not every form of anemia has a connection with gastritis. The type of anemia that may lead to gastritis is called pernicious anemia and occurs when the stomach, for whatever reason, is lacking in the substances that it needs to absorb and digest the vitamin B12. This leads to a deficiency that can lead to memory loss, decline in cognitive function, decreased mobility and more. As the stomach attempts digestion, irritation may occur.
- H. Pylori: If you’ve read previous blogs, you know how serious I am about H. Pylori infections. These bacteria lives in the lining of your stomach – specifically in the mucus – and can cause irritation and ulcers. This bacteria is often picked up in our youth and goes mostly unnoticed until it has been present long enough to show symptoms. This can take decades in some people. People who suffer with H. Pylori infections not only have to worry about gastritis, but also the fact that for some people, H. Pylori infections lead to stomach cancer.
Gastritis can be most easily treated if it is caught early. In the early stages, a simple diet change and some maintenance medication may be all that is needed to keep you comfortable. In the late stages, gastritis may even need to be treated with the surgical removal of a portion of the stomach.
If you are experiencing symptoms that you feel may be gastritis, schedule your appointment with Dr. Baker. He has helped countless patients in the Orlando, FL area and he would be glad to help you as well!