Gastritis: What is it, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Gastritis is a disease caused by excessive secretion of stomach acid and can cause bigger problems if left untreated.
The digestive system is an important system that starts from the mouth and ends with the anus. It transforms the nutrients taken into the body in various ways into building blocks, making them usable by the body, and ensures that the substances that are not needed by the body are converted into feces and excreted. Organs such as the mouth, stomach, small and large intestine, and anus are the organs that make up the digestive system, and diseases related to these organs are called digestive system diseases. Therefore, diseases seen in the stomach are also known as digestive system diseases. Gastritis is one of the diseases seen in the stomach. Stomach disorders have increased a lot lately due to changing diets and lifestyles, and the most well-known among these disorders is gastritis. Gastritis is a disease caused by excessive secretion of stomach acid and can cause bigger problems if left untreated.
What is Gastritis?
Gastritis is defined as inflammation of the mucosa in the inner layer of the stomach for various reasons. If left untreated, it penetrates deeper and may cause stomach ulcers or stomach cancer. Gastritis usually occurs due to bacterial infections. The most prominent of these is the bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. This disease is easy to treat, but the important thing here is to make the correct diagnosis as quickly as possible before the disease progresses.
Gastritis can be seen in two types: acute and chronic. While acute gastritis occurs suddenly, chronic gastritis occurs over many years as a result of diseases that have previously been seen in the stomach but whose treatment was delayed or not performed, damaging the gastric mucosa. In chronic gastritis, permanent inflammation of the gastric mucosa occurs and therefore can last for many years.
Gastritis disease affects people’s quality of life greatly and causes bigger problems when left untreated. Therefore, it is a disorder that should be taken seriously.
Situations such as constant and excessive consumption of foods that the stomach has difficulty digesting, and the person’s inability to move adequately during the day, cause excessive secretion of stomach acid to digest the food. Stomach acid is important for digesting food. In such cases, excess stomach acid produces damage to the mucosa in the inner part of the stomach and causes inflammation over time.
Gastritis is usually not advanced in humans and is therefore easy to treat, meaning it responds quickly to treatment. After treated gastritis, if the person continues his old lifestyle or nutritional level, the disease may recur. For this reason, people with gastritis need to constantly pay attention to their nutrition and lifestyle.
What Causes Gastritis?
Weakness or damage to the barrier that protects the mucosa on the inner wall of the stomach causes stomach acid to damage this mucosa. Diseases such as Crohn’s disease and sarcoidosis can increase the risk of gastritis. Causes of gastritis:
- Bacterial infection: Bacteria called Helicobacter pylori cause this disease, but not every person exposed to this bacteria may experience gastritis. The infection resulting from this bacterium can be considered among the most common human infections in the world. Vulnerability to bacteria may be genetic. This vulnerability can also be triggered by lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking alcohol or poor nutrition.
- Unnecessary use of painkillers: Frequently used painkillers containing the active ingredient aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen trigger gastritis. Situations such as regular use, excessive use and unnecessary use of these painkillers can cause stomach problems and sensitize the stomach barrier.
- Old age: The protective barrier of the stomach becomes sensitive and thinner with age, which reduces the resistance to bacteria.
- Stress: Severe stress due to injury, serious infections or serious surgical operations are also among the factors that trigger gastritis.
- Other diseases: AIDS, Crohn’s disease or different parasitic infections can also trigger gastritis.
- Diet: Consuming excessively fatty foods can trigger gastritis.
- radiation therapy
Autoimmune gastritis: It develops due to the body attacking and damaging the cells that make up the stomach lining, thus damaging the protective layer. People with autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s disease and type 1 diabetes are more likely to have autoimmune gastritis. It may also be associated with vitamin B-12 deficiency.
What are the symptoms of gastritis?
While people with gastritis do not have many symptoms in the early days, symptoms begin to appear as the disease progresses.
- Discomfort and burning feeling in the stomach,
- Bitter taste in the mouth,
- Stomach ache,
- Nausea, which can be severe at times and even lead to vomiting,
- Not wanting to eat anything and loss of appetite due to stomach discomfort,
- Bloating and feeling of fullness in the stomach,
- Constant desire to burp,
- Bloody vomiting, which occurs as the disease progresses very much,
- As the disease progresses, black stools may be among the symptoms.
How to Diagnose Gastritis?
Anyone who thinks he or she has symptoms of gastritis should consult a doctor. The doctor performs a comprehensive physical analysis on the patient and decides whether or not to perform some tests by listening to the person’s history. Tests that can be done for diagnosis are as follows:
- Blood test: With this test, the presence of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori can be understood. At the same time, anemia due to stomach bleeding can also be diagnosed thanks to this test.
- Breath test: With this test, the presence of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori can be detected. While the test is being performed, the patient is made to drink a liquid containing radioactive carbon, and since Helicobacter pylori bacteria break down this test liquid in the stomach, radioactive carbon is detected in the breath sample of the patient with gastritis placed in a bag at the end of the test.
- Stool test: With this test, the presence of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori can be detected. Additionally, blood in the stool indicates stomach bleeding.
- Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy: Endoscopy is a procedure performed using a long tube with a camera lens at the end to check inflammation in the stomach. If the doctor sees something unusual in the stomach or esophagus during this procedure, he or she may take a sample of the stomach for a biopsy.
- Upper gastrointestinal x-ray: If there is inflammation in the stomach or small intestine, this inflammation will be evident on x-ray. Before performing x-ray imaging, the patient must swallow barium solution. Then, x-rays are taken and problem areas are identified.
How to Treat Gastritis?
In order to treat gastritis, the underlying causes must first be determined. First of all, habits that cause gastritis, such as poor eating habits, regular use of painkillers or alcohol, and smoking, should be abandoned. In addition to these measures, gastritis treatment can be done with certain medications. These drugs:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to destroy the helicobacter pylori bacteria that causes gastritis. For this purpose, antibiotics such as clarithromycin and amoxicillin or metronidazole are mostly used. Antibiotic treatment usually lasts 7 or 14 days and it is important to use it without interruption. Antibiotics that are not used regularly cause antibiotic resistance and are not effective.
- Proton pump inhibitors: These are drugs that reduce acid secretion, which increases in the stomach and damages the mucosa covering the inner wall of the stomach. They show activity by blocking the cells that form stomach acid. Omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole, dexlansoprazole and pantoprazole are drugs that show this effect.
- Acid blockers: These medications are used to reduce acid production. These drugs are also known as histamine (H-2) blockers. It has the effect of relieving gastritis pain. They can be sold with or without a prescription. Ranitidine, famotidine, cimetidine and nizatidine are drugs included in this group.
Antacids: Drugs in this group work by neutralizing the excess acid in the stomach. They can relieve pain quickly. Doctors may add drugs in this group in addition to drug therapy. Since antacids can cause side effects such as constipation or diarrhea, they should be used under the supervision of a doctor.