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Gastritis
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Gastritis

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
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).

When to seek medical advice

Nearly everyone has experienced a bout of indigestion and stomach irritation. Most cases of indigestion are short-lived and require only self-care, such as taking an antacid. However, if you experience indigestion (dyspepsia) or other symptoms of possible gastritis for longer than one week, see your doctor.

If you regularly take aspirin or an over-the-counter pain reliever other than Tylenol and you experience stomach discomfort after taking the drug, discuss the problem with your doctor.

If you are vomiting blood or have blood in your stools (your stools are black or tarry), see your doctor right away to determine the cause.

Screening and diagnosis

Your doctor may suspect gastritis by listening to your medical history and examining you. While taking your health history, your doctor will likely ask you about your eating and drinking habits and what medications you're currently taking.

In addition, your doctor may recommend various tests to pinpoint the cause of your stomach discomfort, such as:

  • Blood tests. Your doctor may order a blood test to check for the presence of H. pylori antibodies in your blood. If the test is positive, this tells your doctor that you have at some time, past or present, come in contact with H. pylori bacteria and that you may have an infection that may be to blame for your stomach discomfort. A positive test doesn't necessarily indicate current infection. Blood tests may also be recommended to check whether you have a shortage of red blood cells (anemia). Anemia can be due to stomach bleeding associated with gastritis.

  • Breath test for H. pylori infection. If your doctor suspects that you may have an infection from H. pylori, a breath test may help determine whether the bacteria are present in your body.

  • Stool tests. A test is available that checks for H. pylori in a sample of your stool. A positive test suggests current infection. Your doctor may order a test to check for the presence of blood in your stool, a sign of stomach bleeding that can accompany gastritis and stomach ulcers.

  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. To get a closer look at your stomach, your doctor may recommend a procedure called endoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor eases an endoscope — a narrow tube with a tiny camera attached — through your mouth and down into your stomach to view your stomach lining. The doctor will inspect the lining for signs of inflammation and may remove a tiny sample of tissue (take a biopsy). A biopsy is the definitive way for doctors to make a diagnosis of gastritis and look for H. pylori bacteria.

  • Upper gastrointestinal X-ray. Your doctor may take a series of X-rays of your stomach and small intestines to look for signs that suggest gastritis or other digestive problems. The X-rays are usually taken after you swallow a liquid called barium. The barium coats the lining of your digestive tract and makes the lining show up more clearly on X-ray films.

Complications

Left untreated, gastritis may lead to stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding. And some forms of chronic gastritis may increase your risk of stomach cancer. However, gastritis generally isn't serious except for the discomfort it produces. Complications are unusual.

Gastritis > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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