gastritis

Gastritis is a stomach disorder. When the stomach lining is inflamed, it is called gastritis. Inflammation, irritation or erosion of the stomach lining may be either due to h.pylori bacteria as in the case of peptic ulcer or due to certain antacids taken for a long time.  Deficiency of vitamin B12 is also a cause for development of gastritis. Such inflammation can also occur sometimes due to life style habits like smoking, drinking alcohol or consumption of cocaine.

Causes of Gastritis

The bacteria known as helicobacter pylori and consumption of antacids that irritates the stomach are the two major causes of developing gastritis.

Gastritis is not a serious ailment but cures quickly on treatment. Gastritis may be sudden or chronic even though the causes are not different. Gastritis affects only the stomach and is known to lead to other type of stomach ulcers if it becomes chronic.

Sudden gastritis may occur on account of any surgery or on account of breathing with the use of respirator. Chronic gastritis sets in over a period of time either by consumption of alcohol, smoking or certain type of food regularly. People suffering due to liver or kidney disorders are also vulnerable to the attack of gastritis.

Bile reflux or backflow of the bile to the stomach from the bile tract also causes irritation and inflammation. Bile tract is the tube connecting the bile and gallbladder. As gastritis occur, the digestive acids irritates the stomach lining further and lead to severe ulcers. Gastritis may remain for a brief period or may become chronic lasting over a long period.

Symptoms

General symptoms which may surface due to gastritis are many, like:

  • Frequent stomach upsets with nausea
  • Bloating or pain in the abdomen
  • Burning sensation in the stomach or a gnawing pain during nights or in between meals
  • Indigestion and vomiting
  • Reduced appetite and hiccups
  • In rare cases blood vomiting or black stools are also noticed

 

Some of the Symptoms for gastritis are also common in certain other health conditions like:

  • Disorders of the gallbladder and gallstones
  • Peptic ulcer following gastritis
  • A chronic inflammatory condition of the entire digestive tract, which is called Crohn’s disease
  • Nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain due to food poisoning

Hence proper diagnosis is required to confirm that a person is affected by gastritis.

Persons affected by gastritis must avoid incompatible food which are spicy and has the potential to aggravate gastritis.

Treatment of gastritis involves taking antacids or using proton pump inhibitors to reduce the stomach acid. If there is blood or greying of the stool, then stool test is also conducted.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of Gastritis is by laboratory tests including blood tests and endoscopy, similar tests conducted for peptic ulcer.

  • Blood or saliva test to confirm the presence of h.pylori
  • Test to check blood in the stool
  • Total blood count
  • Endoscopy to view the stomach lining to observe the level of inflammation or erosion
  • X-ray to check the digestive system for any other disorder

 

Preventive measures

Gastritis is not a serious problem if attended to immediately on noticing any of the symptoms. Once treatment is commenced the problem subsides and cures quickly.

Which types of food are detrimental to a person affected by gastritis differ from person to person. But in general, Persons affected by gastritis must avoid incompatible food which are spicy and has high fat content as they have the potential to aggravate gastritis.

The gastritis causing bacteria h.pylori can be prevented by consuming food which are rich in dietary fiber and also containing flavonoids. Some of them are, onion (red and white), broccoli, legumes, soya products, parsley, garlic, kale, celery and berries.

Consumption of food containing vitamin B12 or supplements can both cure and prevent gastritis if the underlying cause is B12 deficiency.

Regular use of ginger tea and chamomile tea is also preventive and curative. Chewing peppermint leaves, eating a few strawberries each day and consumption of yogurt are also helpful in healing gastritis. Drinking basil leaves tea with honey thrice a day and chewing fennel seeds immediately after meals, licorice powder in hot water and potato juice are some of the natural remedies widely used in the treatment of gastritis.

Some of the preventive measures that can resist gastritis are:

  • Liquid fasting with the use of fresh fruit juices of oranges, grapes, melon, pears, apple and pineapple
  • Drinking only warm water throughout the day
  • Taking food at least a couple of hours before going to bed
  • Avoid many varieties of dishes for a single meal
  • Only well cooked food must be consumed
  • Reducing or stopping consumption of alcohol and smoking
  • Eating reduced quantities of food at frequent intervals
  • Adopting stress reduction techniques
  • Avoiding medicines that can irritate he stomach lining
  • Use of certain herbs that can enhance the health of the digestive system

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.