Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common: Inflammation of the lining of the stomach. The inflammation of gastritis is most often the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers or the regular use of certain pain relievers. Drinking too much alcohol also can contribute to gastritis.
Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or appear slowly over time (chronic gastritis). In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers and an increased risk of stomach cancer. For most people, however, gastritis isn’t serious and improves quickly with treatment.
- Alcohol abuse: Chronic alcohol use can irritate and erode the stomach lining.
- Autoimmune disease:In some people, the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the stomach lining.
- Bacterial infection: pylori bacteria are the main cause of chronic gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. The bacteria break down the stomach’s protective lining and cause inflammation.
- Bile reflux:The liver makes bile to help you digest fatty foods. “Reflux” means flowing back. Bile reflux occurs when bile flows back into the stomach instead of moving through the small intestine.
- Medications:Steady use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids to manage chronic pain can irritate the stomach lining.
- Physical stress:A sudden, severe illness or injury can bring on gastritis. Often, gastritis develops even after a trauma that doesn’t involve the stomach. Severe burns and brain injuries are two common causes.
- Many people with gastritis don’t have symptoms. People who do have symptoms often mistake them for indigestion. Other signs of gastritis include:
- Black, tarry stool.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Feeling extra full during or after a meal.
- Loss of appetite.
- Stomach ulcers.
- Losing weight without meaning to.
- Upper abdominal (belly) pain or discomfort.
- Vomiting blood.