Chronic gastritis is one of the most commonTrusted Source chronic conditions and can last for years or even a lifetime if left untreated. A wide range of different conditions and factors are known to cause or contribute to the development of chronic gastritis.
Resolving mild cases of gastritis can often be through the use of medication and lifestyle changes. However, for some people with severe chronic gastritis, a cure may not be possible, and the focus of treatment will be on managing the symptoms.
People with minor cases of gastritis that are caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori may not always notice any symptoms.
However, most people with chronic gastritis experience a variety of symptoms, including:
- a burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach
- the sensation of being full after eating a small amount
- nausea and vomiting
- unintentional weight loss
- loss of appetite
- upper abdominal pain or discomfort
- bleeding, usually only in erosive gastritis
- Gastritis is termed “erosive” if the stomach lining has been worn away, exposing the tissue to stomach acids.
Chronic gastritis refers to a group of conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the mucosal lining of the stomach.
There are many different causes of chronic gastritis, but most cases are related to one of the following:
H. pylori bacterial infection
H. pylori bacterial infection is the most commonTrusted Source cause of gastritis worldwide. Many people first become infected during childhood, but not everyone experiences symptoms.
While H. pylori infection can cause both acute and chronic gastritis, it is not often associated with erosive gastritis.
Researchers think H. pylori spreads through infected food, water, salvia and other bodily fluids.
Damage to the stomach lining
Damage to the stomach lining can lead to chronic inflammation. Causes of this include:
- overuse or long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen
- excessive alcohol consumption
- chronic stress
- injuries and impact
- exposure to radiation
- recurring bile reflux from the small intestine
- cocaine use
In people with autoimmune gastritis, their immune system attacks the stomach lining for no apparent reason. Autoimmune gastritis is usually chronic but non-erosive.
In some people, autoimmune gastritis may be linked to chronic or severe H. pylori infection.
Less common causes of chronic gastritis include:
- Crohn’s disease
- irritable bowel syndrome
- food allergies
- other types of fungal, bacterial, or viral infections
Possible risk factors for chronic gastritis include:
- diets high in salt or preservatives
- diets high in fat and oil, especially saturated and trans fats
- long-term consumption of alcohol
- conditions that weaken the immune system
- cocaine use
- long-term use of NSAIDs and some other medications
- long-term use of medications for acid reflux and indigestion
Doctors use a wide range of tests and tools to diagnose chronic gastritis, including:
- medical history
- physical exam
- stool tests to check for both H. pylori and signs of bleeding
- endoscopy when a camera on a tube is put down the throat into the stomach
- blood tests
- urea breath test to check for H. pylori infections
Treatment depends on the type, cause, and severity of gastritis.
Gastritis caused by H. pylori infections is usually treated with a combination of antacids and antibiotics, even if the infection is not causing any symptoms.
Common acid-reducing medications include:
- Antacids. Antacids typically contain magnesium, calcium, sodium, or aluminum salts that can help neutralize stomach acids. Antacids can sometimes cause constipation or diarrhea and other side effects.
- Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs). These reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. People can buy low-strength versions of lansoprazole and omeprazole over the counter, but most PPIs are only available on prescription.
- H2 blockers. H2 blockers are antihistamines that can help reduce stomach acid production. Most types of H2 blockers are available in both over-the-counter and prescription strengths.
Chronic gastritis can cause pain and discomfort and lead to serious complications if left untreated. People should see their doctor if they have symptoms of chronic gastritis.
Management of chronic gastritis involves treating any underlying conditions, taking medications to counteract stomach acid, and making lifestyle and dietary changes.