An introduction to the causes of gastritis
Gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach, can occur because of a number of reasons. Infection by H. pylori is one of these but this is not the only cause; lifestyle choices can also contribute.
This is in comparison to gastroenteritis (inflammation of the intestines) which is usually the result of an infection. Here, we discuss common causes of gastritis.
An infection by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses or fungi can be the cause of either acute or chronic gastritis. Invading bugs are often responsible for acute episodes of gastritis; giving rise to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and discomfort, although, symptoms generally only usually last for a few days.
H. Pylori is often responsible for cases of chronic gastritis. H. Pylori is a type of bacteria found in the mucus lining of many peoples’ stomachs and it can live quite happily without producing any symptoms. However, in some cases it aggravate the inside layer and give rise to gastritis.
Your stomach naturally has a protective lining which stops it being exposed to stomach acid. If this barrier is damaged in some way, say in an injury or after an operation, you are more susceptible to inflammation.
Certain aspects of our diet can contribute to gastritis. Extreme behaviours, for example excessive consumption of alcohol over a short period of time, can give rise to acute gastritis. General lifestyle habits may also have a part to play, for instance long-term consumption of acid-producing foods such as meat and very fatty foods can contribute to low-grade, chronic inflammation. Try making a soothing, wholesome homemade soup for a nice meal option if your stomach is particularly sensitive.
Certain conditions such as autoimmune diseases can give rise to gastritis. In autoimmune disorders our immune system initiates an attack on normal healthy cells, mistaking them for invading pathogens.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease affecting the digestive tract. As well as affecting the cells of the digestive tract, a substance called intrinsic factor can also be affected. Intrinsic factor in the stomach supports the absorption of vitamin B12 so a deficiency in this important vitamin (pernicious anaemia) may also be a consequence.
A common class of painkillers called NSAIDs (which include aspirin and ibuprofen) block protective mechanisms in place in the stomach which shield the lining from your abrasive stomach acid. This is also a risk factor in corticosteroid medication. Be sure to seek advice from your doctor if you suspect medication is contributing to gastritis.
Age is more of a risk factor rather than a cause of gastritis. Over time the stomach lining becomes thinner making it more susceptible to inflammation. As people get older they are often more likely to adopt poorer lifestyle choices, for example an increase in alcohol consumption and a poorer diet.