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Gastritis

Definition

Gastritis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lining of the stomach.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

There are many causes of gastritis.

The most common are:

  • Alcohol
  • Erosion (loss) of the protective layer of the stomach lining
  • Infection of the stomach with Helicobacter pylori bacteria
  • Medications such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Smoking

Less common causes are:

  • Autoimmune disorders (such as pernicious anemia)
  • Backflow of bile into the stomach (bile reflux)
  • Eating or drinking caustic or corrosive substances (such as poisons)
  • Excess gastric acid secretion (such as from stress)
  • Viral infection, especially in people with a weak immune system

Gastritis can last a short time (acute gastritis) or for months to years (chronic gastritis).

Symptoms

Signs and tests

Tests vary depending on the specific cause. An X-ray of the upper digestive tract, EGD, or other tests may be advised.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the specific cause. Some of the causes will disappear over time. Medications to neutralize stomach acid or decrease its production may be recommended.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook depends on the cause, but is usually good.

Complications

See the specific types of gastritis.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop gastritis symptoms.

Prevention

Avoid long-term use of irritants (such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or alcohol).

References

Kuipers, E. Acid peptic disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 141.


Review Date: 1/28/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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