Gastritis is irritation or inflammation of the stomach. It can be a relatively short-lived and mild condition or a more serious affliction. Here at A.Vogel Talks Gastritis, our expert Ali Cullen discusses the steps you can take to support a healthy stomach.
Gastritis is the term used for inflammation or irritation of the stomach lining. It is a fairly common condition with a range of causes: from eating foods that you don’t quite agree with, to using certain types of medicines such as painkillers. Generally, people experience symptoms they describe as indigestion, such as bloating, upper abdominal discomfort, heartburn or a feeling of fullness.
We now know that a common cause of gastritis and indigestion is infection by a type of bacteria known as Helicobactor pylori. Although it is important to eliminate this possibility, we should also consider dietary and lifestyle factors which may be contributing to the condition.
The condition of gastritis is classified by doctors and scientists in a number of ways. These include:
Acute Gastritis. A severe, short-term bout of inflammation is classed as acute gastritis. This is likely to be caused by infection or a sudden change in diet or lifestyle. The pain experienced can be severe, feeling very sharp, but is likely to only last for a few days. Acute gastritis can be erosive (often associated with damage to the stomach, for example if the stomach lining has become worn, is typically characteristic of ulcers on the lining of the stomach, and bleeding is common) or non-erosive, usually caused by bacteria.
Chronic gastritis. If symptoms are prolonged, chronic gastritis may develop. Chronic gastritis is more likely to occur with age. The stomach lining becomes thinner as we get older, making it more at risk of becoming inflamed. Chronic gastritis can also be classified as erosive if there are physical changes to the stomach, for example if the lining becomes worn down. A combination of a vulnerable tummy and poor lifestyle choices are notable risk factors
Atrophic gastritis is a class of end-stage chronic gastritis. After many years of inflammation, glandular cells of the stomach can become damaged beyond repair. The various types of cells of the glands of the stomach secrete a number of important digestive juices so our digestion is likely to be impaired if these are affected
Autoimmune atrophic gastritis occurs when your body produces antibodies against the healthy cells of our stomach. This not only affects the cells themselves but can also affect a substance called intrinsic factor which if depleted can give rise to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
If the cause of your symptoms isn’t clear or your symptoms are severe and fail to subside after a few days, a trip to your doctor may be necessary to help make a diagnosis. An endoscopy can be carried out to detect inflammation in the stomach. A blood, breath or stool test may also be required to investigate if the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori) are present.
Gastritis may be the result of a number of causes, these can include:
Infection – H. Pylori can affect the digestive tract and cause the stomach lining to become irritated
Injury – physical damage to the stomach due to an accident, illness or surgery can cause inflammation
Diet – certain aspects of your diet can contribute to gastritis; high-fat foods and alcohol are common irritants
Medication – a common class of painkillers, NSAIDs, which include aspirin and ibuprofen, block protective mechanisms in place in the stomach which are there to prevent stomach acid attacking our stomach lining. If these are affected your stomach can suffer as a result
Conditions – certain conditions, such as autoimmune diseases – where your immune system begins to attack your healthy body tissues – can cause gastritis. One example of an autoimmune disease affecting the digestive tract is Crohn’s disease
Aging – as you grow older your stomach lining becomes thinner making it more susceptible to inflammation
Click on the links above to explore the causes of gastritis in more detail.
Symptoms of gastritis can vary in severity depending on if it is an acute or chronic case. Generally, acute gastritis gives rise to pronounced symptoms whereas in a chronic episode they are generally milder, but present over an extended period of time.
Stomach pain – as the stomach is inflamed, pain is common. This can vary in severity. Indigestion may also occur which can give rise to heartburn
Loss of appetite – you may find you feel full after only a very small amount of food
Hello. My name is Alison Cullen and I am an experienced nutritional therapist with a clinic in Ayrshire, Scotland. I currently combine running my clinic with the role of Education Manager for A Vogel. I lecture, train and write extensively on health issues, which I find endlessly fascinating.
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Your diet can have an impact on your susceptibility to gastritis, especially if you indulge in plenty of fatty foods and refined sugars which can increase the population of unfriendly bacteria in your gut. Instead try to encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut by taking a prebiotic rich in L+ lactic acid.