Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach, which can cause the stomach lining to be red, swollen and painful.
There are many causes of gastritis, but the condition is most often caused by infection with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (A.K.A.: H. pylori), which also causes most stomach ulcers. Other potential causes of gastritis include excessive alcohol consumption, using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) at high dosage for a long time and certain autoimmune diseases.
Some people with gastritis are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t have noticeable symptoms. In most cases, gastritis can cause mild symptoms, or more severe symptoms like recurring pain in the abdomen that may feel like an aching or burning sensation. In severe or chronic cases, gastritis can even cause stomach bleeding, which can result in blood in your vomit or stool.
Gastritis can develop as a short-term condition, called acute gastritis, or can become chronic gastritis, which persists over a long period of time. However, most gastritis cases aren’t serious and resolve themselves quickly with treatment.
If left untreated, acute gastritis can become chronic gastritis and, in rare cases, can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. Read more about stomach cancer care at Hoag.
Why Hoag for Gastritis Evaluation and Treatment?
Diagnosed with gastritis, or have a gnawing, burning sensation in your stomach that just won’t go away? When you need answers, and you need them fast, trust the Hoag Digestive Health Institute to help you heal.
Hoag’s comprehensive, fully-integrated Foregut Program is Orange County’s recognized leader when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of serious or recurring conditions of the esophagus and stomach. At Hoag, our program offers a patient-centered approach, drawing on the latest advancements in techniques and technology to help patients find answers other programs might miss and access treatment options you just can’t get anywhere else. The result: better outcomes and fuller recoveries.
Need treatment for gastritis in Orange County, or have symptoms that have you worried? You don’t have to hurt. Hoag is here for you every step of the way.
Symptoms and Causes of Gastritis
Gastritis sometimes causes no noticeable symptoms, which means some people who have it may not know they have the condition. Most people with gastritis, however, do develop symptoms, which can be acute (short term) or chronic (long-term). Common symptoms of gastritis include:
- Stomach pain that may feel like an aching or burning sensation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hiccups and belching
- Unexplained loss of appetite
- Feeling bloated or full in your upper abdomen, even though you’ve only eaten a little
Severe or chronic gastritis can sometimes cause bleeding in the stomach. Symptoms that may indicate gastritis-related stomach bleeding include:
- Black, tar-like stools
- Visible blood in your vomit or bowel movements
- Throwing up what looks like black coffee grounds, which is actually digested blood
Risk Factors for Gastritis
There are a few known risk factors that may make you more likely to develop acute or chronic gastritis. Factors that may put you at risk of developing gastritis include:
- Infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, A.K.A. H. pylori.
- Excessive alcohol use or abuse
- Prolonged use of NSAID pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
- Extreme or prolonged stress, which can be caused by surgery, injury or infection
- Being older, as older adults have an increased risk of gastritis due to thinning of the stomach lining, and because older people are more likely to be infected with H. pylori
- Having “autoimmune gastritis,” which is when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the stomach lining. Autoimmune gastritis is more common in people with certain conditions, including type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s disease
- Having chronic bile reflux, which is when a digestive fluid called bile backs up into your stomach and esophagus
- Having pernicious anemia, which is a form of anemia related to an inability to digest vitamin B-12
- Having certain chronic diseases, including Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, HIV/AIDS and/or sarcoidosis
Diagnosis and Tests for Gastritis
If you visit the doctor with symptoms that suggest you may have gastritis, your doctor will likely ask you about the symptoms and your medical history before conducting a thorough physical exam.
Depending on the outcome of that initial exam, your doctor may order certain tests to fully diagnose or rule out gastritis. These tests may include:
- A Complete Blood Count (CBC), which can check for anemia or changes in the chemistry of your blood
- Tests to check for the presence of blood in your stool
- Tests of your breath or stool to check for infection with H. pylori
- A barium swallow x-ray, in which you’ll be asked to swallow a special fluid that highlights the esophagus and stomach on x-ray imaging, making those organs easier to see
- Upper endoscopy, in which doctors use a flexible tube with a light and a camera at the tip to look inside your stomach and/or collect tissue samples for biopsy. Explore Hoag’s Orange County endoscopy centers near you
Advanced diagnosis of conditions of the esophagus and stomach at Hoag
As Orange County’s highest-volume treatment center and long-time leader in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of conditions involving the stomach and esophagus, the Hoag Digestive Health Institute is here for those facing serious conditions involving these crucial digestive organs, including chronic gastritis, Barrett’s esophagus and other serious conditions.
At Hoag, advanced procedures used to diagnose or treat conditions involving the stomach and esophagus include:
- Abdominal Ultrasound
- Barium Swallow X-ray
- Capsule Studies
- Esophageal Bravo pH Monitoring
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
- Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)
- Esophageal Manometry (EM)
- Gastric Emptying Test (GET)
- Video Esophagram
Management and Treatment for Gastritis
Management and treatment options for gastritis vary from person to person, and may depend on your overall health, the severity of your symptoms and other factors. Most cases of gastritis respond well to treatment once the underlying cause is discovered and addressed, though your post-diagnosis treatment path may depend on the cause.
For example, if it’s found that your gastritis is due to an infection by H. pylori, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection as part of the treatment. In cases involving NSAID-related gastritis, the doctor may tell you to limit or stop your use of certain drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and other pain relievers.
As part of your treatment, you may also be asked to take medicines that reduce the amount of acid produced by your stomach. These could include a proton pump-inhibitor (PPI), which is a drug that limits the production of acid. It’s also likely you may be asked to make certain lifestyle changes, including reducing the amount of alcohol you drink if that’s contributing to the issue.
Advanced Treatment Options for Stomach and Esophageal Issues at Hoag
At Hoag, we’re committed to finding and using the latest and most advanced treatment options for conditions involving the esophagus and stomach. At Hoag, advanced options for treatment include:
- Enterra Therapy, which is an implantable device to control chronic nausea and vomiting often associated with gastroparesis – a condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself of food normally
- Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA), which is a treatment that uses high-frequency electrical currents to create a small area of heat that destroys the cancer cells.
- LINX Reflux Management System, which is an implantable, FDA-approved device that treats GERD symptoms and stops reflux. Hoag is one of only three centers in California to offer this life-changing technology.
- Nissen Fundoplication, which is a surgery to reinforce and strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter
- Toupet Fundoplication: Anti-Reflux Surgery, which a type of anti-reflux surgery that is most often used in cases where the patient has difficulty swallowing in addition to traditional reflux symptoms.
- Transoral Incisionless Fundoplication (TIF), which is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that corrects a weakened esophageal sphincter, which causes chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The TIF procedure is performed entirely within the stomach, using an endoscope passed down the throat, and requires no incisions.
Prevention of Gastritis
While there is no known way to definitively prevent yourself from developing gastritis, there are a few steps you can take that might reduce your risk of the disease. These may include:
- Take NSAID pain relievers only as directed, and only for short periods of time
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Get screened for infection with the H. pylori bacteria
- Avoid the abuse of alcohol, or seek treatment for alcoholism
Treatment for Alcoholism at Hoag
For those with alcohol addiction that may be contributing to cirrhosis or liver disease, Hoag is here for you. The longest-standing addiction treatment option in Orange County, Hoag Addiction Treatment Centers is an accredited program within the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute that offers help, hope and healing for people and families facing addiction to alcohol and other drugs. For more information, visit this link, or call (949)764-6883.