Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Numerous factors cause this illness. Many are caused by lifestyle excesses: excess smoking, excess alcohol, excess caffeine, and excess eating. Gastritis is also a side effect of many medications. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are well-known causes. Bacterial and viral infections are also a cause, as is stress from surgery, severe burns, and trauma. These factors tend to produce gastritis by causing an increased acid production in the stomach. One known cause of gastritis that is not caused by increased acid production is atrophic gastritis, in which the stomach lining becomes wasted and acid is not produced. Gastritis is a common condition. It affects virtually everyone at some point in their life. The diagnosis of gastritis is made by the history. Occasionally an upper gastrointestinal x-ray study or upper endoscopy (viewing the stomach through a lighted flexible tube) is done. Most cases of gastritis are short-term and have no lasting effects.

Living With Your Diagnosis
The main symptoms of gastritis are upper abdominal pain and cramps. The pain is many times made worse by eating. Many individuals will have decrease in appetite. The pain may radiate to the chest causing the patient to think it is related to the heart. Many will have a burning acid taste in the mouth. Nausea and vomiting occasionally occur. Occasionally bleeding may occur.

Treatment of gastritis focuses on the symptoms and elimination of the cause. Mild symptoms are controlled with antacids. The liquid form of antacids is better than the tablet form in providing relief. Over-the-counter histamine-2 (H2) blockers are available. These meds relieve the symptoms by causing a decrease in acid production. Other medications that protect the stomach lining are available from your health care provider. If the cause of the gastritis is associated with the bacterial infection from Helicobacter pylori, antibiotics may be prescribed. If the gastritis is severe and bleeding is present, hospitalization may be needed. Intravenous fluids and medications are given to control the symptoms, decrease stomach acid production, and protect the stomach lining.

The DOs
• Eat regularly and in moderation.
• Use antacids and over-the-counter H2 blockers for mild symptoms.

The DON’Ts
• Stop smoking.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Avoid foods that are hard to digest.
• Avoid medications that can irritate your stomach, such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If the abdominal pain becomes severe.
• If symptoms do not improve after 3–5 days of treatment.
• If chest pain is severe, radiates to the neck, jaw, or arm, and is associated with sweating or shortness of breath.
• If there is blood with bowel movements or dark tarry stools.
• If you vomit blood.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse