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Diseases & Conditions  

Gastritis, Chronic - Chronic gastritis, by definition, is a histopathological entity characterized by chronic inflammation of the stomach mucosa. Gastritis's can be classified based on the underlying etiologic agent (eg, Helicobacter pylori, bile reflux, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], autoimmunity, allergic response) and the histopathological pattern, which may suggest the etiologic agent and clinical course (eg, H pylori;associated multifocal atrophic gastritis). Other classifications are based on the endoscopic appearance of the gastric mucosa (eg, varioliform gastritis).

The term gastric refers to your stomach. Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of your stomach, which you may experience as a gnawing or burning pain in your stomach or upper abdomen.

Gastritis, which is fairly common, has many causes. The lining of your stomach can become inflamed if you regularly take aspirin or certain other pain relievers that irritate the stomach. Drinking alcohol to excess can damage the lining of your stomach. Another common cause of gastritis is an infection with the same bug that can cause stomach ulcers. Sometimes what's known as stress gastritis develops after traumatic injury or major surgery to the body.

Treatment of gastritis depends on the cause, and most causes are easy to diagnose and treat. Antacids or other medications to decrease or neutralize acid in your stomach usually relieve symptoms and promote healing. Most gastritis improves rapidly with treatment.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of gastritis may include:

  • A gnawing or burning ache or pain (indigestion) in your upper abdomen, which some people describe as having a sour or burning stomach. Eating may worsen or improve the discomfort.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Belching or Bloating.

  • A feeling of fullness in your upper abdomen after eating.

In most cases, the signs and symptoms of gastritis are relatively mild and short-lived. Occasionally, gastritis may cause stomach bleeding, but it's rarely severe unless there's also ulceration of your stomach lining. Signs of stomach bleeding include the vomiting of blood, which may resemble coffee grounds in its composition, and blood in your stools, which are often black or tarry.

The signs and symptoms of gastritis may depend on how long the problem has existed. Gastritis that occurs suddenly is called acute gastritis. In its acute phase, gastritis causes the classic nausea and pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. Gastritis that develops gradually is called chronic gastritis, and its signs and symptoms may vary from those of acute gastritis. You may experience a dull pain in your upper abdomen and a feeling of fullness and loss of appetite after a few bites of food. Or for many people, chronic gastritis actually causes no signs or symptoms.

Gastritis is just one of many common digestive problems with somewhat similar signs and symptoms. Gastritis differs from:

  • Gastroenteritis. Also called stomach flu, gastroenteritis is usually due to a viral infection of the intestines. Signs and symptoms of gastroenteritis often include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea or vomiting, as well as indigestion. And symptoms typically resolve within a day or two, whereas the discomfort of gastritis may be recurring.

  • Heartburn. Heartburn is pain or a burning sensation behind the breastbone, often occurring after a meal. Heartburn is caused by the backflow of stomach acid into your esophagus, the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. With heartburn, you may also experience a sour taste and the sensation of food re-entering your mouth.

  • Stomach ulcers. If a gnawing or burning pain in your stomach is persistent and severe, you may have an ulcer. Stomach (peptic) ulcers are open sores that develop on the inside lining of the stomach. The most prominent symptom of a stomach ulcer is pain. But ulcer pain is typically worse at night or when your stomach is empty. Stomach ulcers and gastritis share some of the same causes.

  • Nonulcer dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is the medical term for indigestion. Nonulcer dyspepsia is a common disorder of the digestive tract that produces symptoms such as pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen similar to that caused by an ulcer — but tests show that you don't have an ulcer. Gastritis and nonulcer dyspepsia have similar symptoms but different causes. Nonulcer dyspepsia, which is common, often results simply from stress or your diet — eating foods that are upsetting to your stomach, such as overdoing spicy, fatty or fried foods.

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