What Can Cause Inflammation of the Stomach and How is it Treated?
Inflammation of the stomach, commonly termed as gastritis, is mainly the inflammation of stomach lining. The mucosal lining of the stomach may have certain areas that react to the acid present in the stomach. This causes irritation and damages the stomach lining. There are numerous causes of stomach inflammation and the treatment depends on the cause.
There are digestive juices in the stomach, which are acidic in nature and aids in digestion. They provide acidic medium for various types of food and help in proper digestion and absorption of food. However, sometimes, due to certain causes, the stomach lining gets irritated in some areas, when the digestive juices or acid in the stomach cause further soreness, which results in inflammation of stomach.
Gastritis or inflammation of the stomach can be a short lasting phase of acute inflammation (acute gastritis) or a long lasting phase (chronic gastritis), which may take longer time to heal.
What Can Cause Inflammation of the Stomach?
Whatever, may be the cause, stomach inflammation is finally the result of an imbalance between the digestive juices secreted by the gastric mucosa.
Here are some of the Causes of Inflammation of the Stomach or Gastritis:
- Inflammation of the Stomach Caused Due to Bacterial Infection – A bacteria called H. pylori living in the stomach lining is thought to be one of the main reasons for inflammation of stomach. It can affect anyone, while some people may be more vulnerable to the attack of this bacterial infection. However, poor lifestyle and dietary choices can make a person more prone to bacterial infection and resultant inflammation of the stomach. If left untreated, it can lead to formation of ulcerations in the stomach lining.
- Inflammation of the Stomach Caused Due to Medications and Pain-Killers – Certain medications, particularly those used for pain relieving, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), arthritis treatment and others when taken regularly or in large doses, often tend to destroy the protective lining of the stomach mucosa. This causes irritation and results into stomach inflammation. If these medicines are taken occasionally in minimal doses, they usually do not cause any problems.
- Inflammation of the Stomach Caused Due to Lifestyle Choices – Some lifestyle preferences like regular smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, too much spicy food, etc. are found to affect the stomach lining and cause harm to it. These substances irritate the gastric mucosa and increase the chances of inflammation of stomach. Stress induced due to injuries, burns, surgeries, etc. can also contribute to the irritation of stomach lining. Improper dietary patterns, irregular meals and sleep disturbances, too can play an important role in disturbing the normal flora of stomach and make the mucosal lining more vulnerable to irritation.
- Inflammation of the Stomach Caused Due to Gastric Disorders – Other conditions that affect the stomach, like acid reflux (GERD), esophageal disorders, bile reflux or other disorders of the gastrointestinal system, infections affecting the stomach or HIV, too can cause inflammation of stomach.
- Inflammation of the Stomach Caused Due to Autoimmune Disorders – Autoimmune disorders can sometimes cause inflammation of stomach and is called as autoimmune gastritis. In this, the cells of stomach begin to attack their own cells, setting a reaction in the immune system and results in inflammation of stomach.
- Other Conditions that can Cause Stomach Inflammation – Other conditions affecting several organs or those causing inflammation of nearby organs, parasitic infections, systemic infections and vitamin B12 deficiency can sometimes cause inflammation of stomach.
What are the Symptoms of Stomach Inflammation?
Inflammation of stomach can present itself with heartburn, nausea, acid regurgitation in the throat or even vomiting. Other symptoms of stomach inflammation include pain in stomach in localized spots, which may be better or worse after eating. There may be a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen and burning pain in stomach, while some may not have any symptoms at all.
How is Inflammation of Stomach Treated?
Inflammation of stomach is confirmed with history or symptoms, if any. Investigations may include testing for H. pylori infection, X-rays to view upper gastro-intestinal tract or endoscopy to view the interior of stomach mucosal lining.
Treatment for Inflammation of Stomach Includes:
- Antibiotics to Treat Stomach Inflammation – Antibiotics may be required to treat H. pylori infection affecting the stomach mucosa. It is a combination of drugs given for a specified period and the entire course needs to be completed as prescribed by the physician. Antibiotics that treat other infections may be given if such cause is identified.
- Treating Inflammation of the Stomach with Antacids – Antacids are medications that neutralize the acid secretion in the stomach. This helps to keep acid levels in the stomach low and protect the gastric mucosa from damage.
- Acid Blockers to Treat Inflammation of the Stomach – Acid blockers or H-2 blockers control the amount of acid secreted into the stomach and help to relieve pain arising from stomach inflammation. Another set of medicines called proton-pump inhibitors also reduce acid production by inhibiting the action of certain cells in the stomach lining that are responsible for acid production.
Lifestyle Measures to Manage and Prevent Inflammation of the Stomach
Lifestyle modifications can help in managing inflammation of stomach or in prevention of gastritis.
- Eat smaller and frequent meals, drink plenty of water and include fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid smoking, alcohol, spicy, fried and fatty foods. Maintain ideal weight and avoid skipping meals.
- Practice stress management techniques, involve in meditation and exercise regularly to release stress and improve digestion.
- Limit intake of pain-killers or medications used to treat arthritis. Consider other alternatives, less harmful medications, physical therapy, warm and cold compresses, etc. to relieve pain and arthritis.