Table of contents
What is gastritis?
Gastritis is a condition that results from inflammation or irritation of the gastric mucosa (1–3). You might feel pain, swelling, and irritation of the mucosal membrane of your stomach (1). Moreover, you may also have nausea, vomiting, dull pain, and discomfort in your upper abdomen, or might experience the feeling of fullness, and the patients report loss of appetite. (1, 3, 4)
Types of gastritis
Depending on how long the signs and symptoms persist, gastritis may be classified as,
Gastritis that occurs suddenly and lasts for one or two days or sometimes nearly for a month is called acute gastritis [5, 7, 8]. In acute gastritis, superficial inflammation of the stomach occurs that causes nausea, pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen and bowel problems.
Whereas, chronic gastritis is an inflammation of the gastric mucosa that occurs gradually and persists for more than a month and even for some years [9, 10]. Chronic gastritis may go unnoticed and might not be revealed up until stomach ulcers have developed, which then cause noticeable symptoms.
Symptoms of gastritis
The symptoms of acute gastritis include the following:
- Stomach pain
- Feeling full
- Nausea and sometimes vomiting
- Lack of appetite
- A bloated stomach
Some of these indications may also be signs of other conditions like gastro-oesophagal reflux disease (GERD), an irritable stomach or bowel, and gastroenteritis.
In chronic gastritis, you may often only have mild symptoms or none at all. On the other hand, you might also have symptoms like those associated with acute gastritis.
Common causes of gastritis
Gastritis remains a social and public health problem globally (2, 8,9). It affects ones’ socioeconomic status, health behaviours and lifestyle (10). It is reported that nearly 50% of the population in developing countries suffer from gastritis (11,12).
Our stomach is protected from acid and harmful microbes by a membrane lining. This lining might be inflamed due to certain bacteria or the regular use of anti-inflammatory painkillers. Combining painkillers with steroids can make this damaging effect worse. Long-term infections can further damage the stomach lining, leading to stomach (gastric) ulcers. If gastritis becomes chronic and the membrane lining is always inflamed, you might become anaemic too. Cancerous tumours may develop, but that is very rare.
Smoking, long-term stress and certain kinds of foods (like fatty, sugary or spicy dishes) may also cause stomach problems. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to acute gastritis too. Another, less common, cause of gastritis is a condition called bile reflux. This is where bile flows upward out of the small intestine and into the stomach, where it damages the lining.
Treatment of gastritis
Changing your diet, avoiding foods that trigger irritation, alcohol or smoking and reducing stress in day-to-day life might help control gastritis. If these lifestyle changes are not enough to relieve the symptoms, medication is considered.
In a recent study by some researchers, it was found that being male, lower age, skipping and irregular meal timings contributed to acute gastritis (6). Whereas, low monthly income, eating spicy foods and lack of fixed physical exercise added to chronic gastritis. Additionally, social stress, medications, and involvement in substance use also added to chronic gastritis.
Acid-lowering medications are usually used to treat gastritis. Depending on the type and severity of the symptoms, the following drugs are generally prescribed:
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) like omeprazole or pantoprazole reduce the production of stomach acid.
- H2 blockers such as ranitidine and famotidine also reduce acid production.
- Antacids like aluminium hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide neutralize the acid already in your stomach.
Gastritis caused by a Helicobacter infection is treated with proton pump inhibitors in combination with antibiotics. If a painkiller causes it, you can consult your doctor about substituting a different medication or combining the painkiller with an acid-lowering drug. If any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen etc., have been prescribed, make sure you are taking it along with the prescribed acid-lowering medication as a precautionary measure.
You should try to relax and take a rest for some time in between hectic work schedules. Try to avoid unnecessary stresses. Empower yourself with the knowledge and understanding of better health practices.
You should eat foods at regular times for each meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and avoid frequent consumption of spicy foods.
Leading a disciplined life with a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and taking your medicines after each meal or with other drugs that reduce the irritation of gastric mucosa will go a long way to reduce the acuity of gastritis.
The goal of dietary management for gastritis is to reduce stomach inflammation. Inflammation in the stomach lining causes a breakdown in the production of protective mucus.
Foods to avoid
The foods that seem to aggravate gastritis include sweets, spicy foods, salted processed foods, meat, barbecue foods, snacks, fried food, acidic and sour foods, carbonated drinks etc. However, these may vary from person to person.
Foods to include in meals
- Whole grains- whole wheat flour, brown rice, oats, millets etc
- High fibre food- legumes and beans , fruits and vegetables,
- Low-fat foods – non fatty fish, lean meats and poultry , skinless chicken and turkey
- Low acidity foods- green leafy vegetables, other vegetables and fruits such as bananas
- Drink water as much as possible
You can also include foods that are high in good protein, like eggs in your menu. Probiotic supplements may also help reduce the symptoms of gastritis. They help stop the spread of H. pylori which is the major cause of chronic gastritis. Probiotics help in improving digestion and encourage regular bowel movements. Research has revealed that
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longumcan survive and adhere better to the gastric mucosa and hence can be included for gastritis management(7). However, all these may vary from person to person and should be eaten as tolerated. Do remember, that the basic idea of the diet approved for gastritis is to reduce pain and inflammation.
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