Gastritis is an inflammation of the inner linings of stomach. Gastritis results from many causes. The causes can be medicine or food or some other illness. Gastritis is of two types. It can be acute and chronic gastritis. In acute gastritis the symptoms are experienced with history of short duration with some or the other triggering factor like use of NSAID, consumption of excessive alcohol. Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria that infects the stomach. Infection with these bacteria may lead to chronic gastritis. Gastritis is associated with various medications, medical and surgical conditions, physical stresses, social habits, chemicals, and infections. In spite of the many conditions associated with gastritis, the signs and symptoms of the disease are very similar. A burning pain in upper abdomen and, occasionally, bloating, belching, nausea or vomiting. The pain is usually in the upper central portion of the abdomen (the "pit" of the stomach). Gastritis pain occurs in the left upper portion of the abdomen and in the back. The pain seems to "go right straight through" a person as it travels from the belly to the back. People often use the terms burning, aching, gnawing, or sore to describe the pain. Usually, a vague sense of discomfort is present, but the pain may be sharp, stabbing, or cutting. In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers and an increased risk of stomach cancer. For most people, however, gastritis isn't serious and improves quickly with treatment.
Some of the more common causes of gastritis:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Potassium supplements
- Iron tablets
- Cancer chemotherapy medications
- Corrosives (acid or lye)
- Alcohols of various types
- Physical stress in people who are critically ill or injured like severe burn injury
- After radiation treatment for cancer
- Autoimmune diseases
- Pernicious anemia
- Chronic vomiting
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Fungal (yeast) infections
- Parasites and worms
Symptoms severity can not be used as yard stick to assess the extent of inflammation and damage to inner linings of stomach. Sometimes with severe symptoms of gastritis there are very few changes in the stomach when viewed through an endoscope. Same is true when endoscopy is done with milder intensity of symptoms. Endoscopy may reveal severe inflammatory changes in the inner linings of stomach. This is more common in elderly people. Gastritis in elderly age group is usually painless.
Range of symptoms present in gastritis depends upon the severity of the illness. Following symptoms may be present:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling of fullness or burning in the upper part of the belly
- Pallor, sweating, and rapid (or "racing") heart beat.
- Feeling faint or short of breath
- Chest pain or severe stomach pain
- Vomiting large amounts of blood
- Bloody bowel movements or dark, sticky, very foul-smelling bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Left untreated, gastritis may lead to stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding. Some forms of chronic gastritis may increase your risk of stomach cancer, especially if you have extensive thinning of the stomach lining and changes in the lining cells. The mainstay of gastritis prevention is to avoid those things that irritate or inflame your stomach's lining.
- Adjust your meals: eat smaller, more frequent meals to help ease the effects of stomach acid. Avoid foods that are irritating, especially those that are spicy, acidic, fried or fatty.
- Reduce or stop alcohol: Excessive use of alcohol can damage inner linings of stomach.
- Stop smoking: Smoking damages inner linings of stomach leading to frequent episodes of gastritis.
- Avoid NSAIDs: Avoid taking NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. These over-the-counter medications can cause stomach inflammation or make existing irritation worse.
Role of Homeopathy in Gastritis:
Homeopathy can give absolute freedom from recurrent attacks of dyspepsia and flair ups of gastritis. One of the biggest advantages of starting with homeopathic treatment for gastritis is that the medicine is safe and gives no side effects. It is recommended that if your gastritis is as a result of recurrent use of NSAIDs which you have to take to get relief in your recurrent and chronic joint pains or headaches or backache, then you must start treatment for such joint pains along with treatment for gastritis. Homeopathy can give you pain free life with its most effective medicines on your chronic and recurrent joint pains. Necessary life style changes are must along with homeopathic treatment to get maximum benefits out of homeopathic treatment for gastritis.