Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. The condition can cause a range of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, back pain, and belching.
It can be acute or chronic and also increase the risk of developing other conditions, such as stomach ulcers, bleeding, or cancer.
A person with gastritis might not experience any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they typically include abdominal pain.
People with gastritis typically report that their abdominal pain occurs in the upper center of the abdomen. They often also report pain in the upper-left portion of the stomach that radiates to the back.
The pain can be described as gnawing, sharp, stabbing, or burning.
Other common symptoms include:
- a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen following a meal
When vomiting is experienced, its appearance may be clear, yellow, or green, and might be blood-streaked or completely bloody in nature.
A severe form of gastritis can lead to:
- anemia, which can cause paleness, a racing heartbeat, dizziness and shortness of breath
- chest pain
- severe stomach pain
- vomiting blood
- bloody or foul-smelling bowel movements
Cases of gastritis can be either acute or chronic. Acute gastritis onsets quickly and has a short duration. In contrast, chronic gastritis might last for months or even years if the condition continues without treatment.
Chronic gastritis can lead to a number of complications if the individual does not seek treatment for the condition.
Gastritis can be either erosive, which means it leads to the breakdown of the stomach lining alongside any inflammation, or non-erosive, just causing inflammation.
Complications of untreated chronic gastritis include:
- Anemia: Erosive gastritis can cause chronic bleeding which, in turn, can lead to anemia
- Atrophic gastritis: Chronic inflammation in the stomach can cause the loss of both the stomach lining and glands
- Peptic ulcers: Ulcers can form in the lining of the stomach and duodenum
- Growths in the stomach lining: The risk of both benign and malignant growths increases in people with gastritis. If Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria cause gastritis, they also increase the risk of a specific form of cancer known as gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.
Acute gastritis does not typically lead to complications.
Seek urgent medical evaluation on experiencing the following symptoms:
There are many possible causes of gastritis. These include:
- infection with parasitic, viral, or bacterial organisms, including H. pylori
- the use of certain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, steroids, or potassium
- growing older
- caffeine consumption
- ingestion of chemicals
- chronic vomiting
- surgical procedures in the gastric area
- excessive alcohol consumption
- autoimmune disorders, such as pernicious anemia
- vitamin B12 deficiency
- other conditions, such as HIV and Crohn’s disease.
Treating gastritis at the acute stage can help prevent its serious complications.