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Gastritis

Conditions Basics

What is gastritis?

Gastritis is an upset stomach. It happens when something irritates the stomach lining. Normally, a layer of mucus protects the stomach lining. If gastritis occurs for a long time, part of this lining may wear away. This causes sores called ulcers.

What causes it?

Many things can cause gastritis, such as:

  • Medicines that can damage the stomach lining. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Excess stomach acid. This can damage the stomach lining.
  • An infection with Helicobacter pylori ( H. pylori). This is a type of bacteria that can cause ulcers.
  • Eating certain foods or drinking too much alcohol.
  • Stress from a severe injury, serious illness, or major surgery.
  • An autoimmune response. The body's immune system may attack and damage the stomach lining.
  • Low levels of iron or vitamin B12.

What are the symptoms?

Gastritis can make you feel sick to your stomach. Symptoms may include pain, discomfort, or bloating in the upper part of the belly. You may also have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Gastritis may cause only mild symptoms that come and go. Severe gastritis can cause serious bleeding from the digestive tract.

How is gastritis treated?

If gastritis happens only now and then, you can likely use just home treatment. This may include changes to your diet, such as limiting how much alcohol you drink. Or you may need to avoid foods and drinks that have caffeine. They increase stomach acid.

If gastritis doesn't get better or it keeps coming back, see your doctor. They may recommend treatment such as:

  • Taking medicines to help reduce stomach acid and ease discomfort. These include antacids and stomach acid blockers.
  • Taking medicines to help treat an infection from H. pylori bacteria.
  • Avoiding medicines that can cause gastritis, such as aspirin or ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Credits

Current as of: June 6, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine