What is It
Gastritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the lining of the stomach walls. It can remain caused by various agents, such as taking certain medications or infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. The can cause significant discomfort, but in many cases, it is asymptomatic.
It is a prevalent pathology. “Its prevalence in the adult population over 50 years of age exceeds 50%”, explains Ángel Lanas, group leader of the Center for Biomedical Research in Network for Liver and Digestive Diseases (Ciberehd) at the Aragon Health Research Institute Foundation.
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The causes that can cause inflammation of the stomach lining are:
- Some drugs, such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen.
- Abuse of alcohol or ingestion of corrosive substances, such as some poison.
- Intake of spicy foods.
- Cocaine use.
- To smoke.
- Reflux of bile into the stomach or bile reflux.
- Disorders autoimmune.
- Disease-causing infection, especially in people with shortages in the immune system.
- Excessive stress
Other less common causes that can cause gastritis are having undergone major surgery or suffering from a gastric disease that can inflame the stomach’s lining.
Although on many occasions, this pathology does not present symptoms, people who suffer from it may experience the following discomfort:
- Heartburn .
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Aerophagia .
- Lack of hunger or loss of desire, which can sometimes cause weight loss.
- Black stools and bloody vomit, in case of gastritis, cause bleeding in the stomach lining.
The prevention of gastritis goes through avoiding the use of substances that can inflame the stomach lining. Avoiding prolonged use of medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid, and reducing or eliminating the intake of alcohol and foods that can irritate the stomach lining, will prevent gastritis from developing caused by these types of agents.
Helicobacter pylori gastritis remains prevented by fighting this infection which, as Ángel Lanas explains, ” is acquired in childhood in the vast majority of cases and already accompanies the infected person until the end of life, unless it remains eliminated by specific antibiotic treatment “.
Gastritis can remain classified according to the duration of the pathology and its symptoms and consequences. Depending on the period, gastritis can be:
- Acute gastritis: A gastritis is critical when it lasts a few days and disappears when the causative agent does. Acute gastritis remains usually caused by long-term use of some drugs, such as ibuprofen, excessive alcohol intake, or stress.
- Chronic gastritis: It occurs when the disease lasts for months or even years. The leading cause of chronic gastritis is infection with the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. It can also be due to alkalinization of the pH of the stomach caused by bile reflux.
According to the symptoms and the consequences that it may entail, gastritis can also remain classified into:
- Erosive gastritis occurs when ulceration occurs in the stomach mucosa due to the weakness of the mucous membranes that protect them, which allow acids to pass through. It has a great relationship with tobacco and alcohol abuse. Erosions can lead to bleeding.
- Atrophic gastritis: In this case, the stomach’s protective layer is affected, increasing the risk of stomach cancer. The most common cause of involvement of this layer is the presence of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Atrophic gastritis presents other types of symptoms and the common ones, such as anaemia, vitamin deficiency, or inadequate absorption of nutrients during digestion.
Among the tests and examinations that can remain performed to detect gastritis is the blood test to analyze the level of red blood cells and detect possible anaemia that can weaken the stomach lining.
The gastroscopy allows you to check the inside of the stomach and mucosal status.
The stool test remains used to check for bleeding, which can be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding caused by gastritis and detect the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
The substance or condition that causes inflammation of the stomach lining will affect which the treatment depends. Although, it is normal for gastritis to remain cured when the causative agent disappears. Sometimes, depending on the incidence of symptoms and the severity of the disease. Some medications are used, such as antacids and proton pump inhibitors. It reduces the amount of gastric acid produced by the glands that line the stomach lining, such as omeprazole, pantoprazole, or esomeprazole. In most cases, drug treatment is only necessary when there is a bacterial infection.
For gastritis due to Helicobacter pylori infection, effective treatment is a combination of different antibiotics.
When to go to the Doctor?
If the abdominal pain is extreme and does not go away, the stools are black, or blood or a substance similar to coffee grounds appears in the vomit, you should see a specialist.
The severity of the disease and its duration depend on the causative agent, so in most cases, gastritis remains cured when the substance, illness or condition that causes it disappears. The chief complications that can occur are bleeding and an increased risk of stomach cancer. Sometimes, if the mucosa that lines the stomach remains altered for too long, the acids can cause ulcers. The most severe complication is stomach cancer.
Forbidden Foods for Gastritis?
There is a lot of confusion around the diet of people with gastritis. As Ángel Lanas indicates, “there is a lot of misinformation, and there are no scientific bases to justify” the prohibition of certain foods. It should be the doctors and dietitians-nutritionists who determine, in each specific case, the guidelines to follow. It will depend on the type of gastritis, the cause if it causes symptoms or not.
For guidance only, these are some of the foods that are associated with a worsening of digestive discomfort related to gastritis and other pathologies:
- Some vegetables: Especially those considered pretentious, that is, they can cause gas, such as broccoli, cauliflower or peppers.
- Acidic or underripe fruits: Especially citrus fruits, such as lemon or grapefruit.
- Whole dairy: whole milk, cream and cured cheese.
- High-fat meats: Mainly sausages, such using chorizo or salami.
- Carbonated drinks: Carbonated drinks remain not recommended in these cases.
- Caffeinated drinks: Like coffee or tea.
- Spicy sauces and condiments: The intake of spicy foods and spices is one of the causes that can cause gastritis.
Recommended Foods for Gastritis
The foods that are associated with minor digestive discomfort are the following:
- Pasta and rice.
- White bread.
- Cooked vegetables.
- Skimmed dairy products.
- Caffeine-free drinks.
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