- You can treat gastritis by avoiding alcohol and trigger foods like chocolate and spicy foods.
- Gastritis treatment might also involve taking OTC acid reducers or prescription medications.
- The causes of gastritis include physical stress, overuse of NSAIDs, and bacterial infections.
- Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.
It can have many different causes, including excessive alcohol intake, the use of certain medications, or a bacterial infection, says Kaunteya Reddy, MD, a gastroenterologist at Redlands Community Hospital.
There are two types of gastritis:
- Acute gastritis comes on suddenly and lasts for a few days or weeks. It affects about 8 out of every 1,000 people.
- Chronic gastritis develops more slowly and can persist for months or years. It affects about 2 out of every 1,000 people.
Gastritis can be painful and may cause long-term complications if left untreated. But there are ways to treat this condition, ease symptoms, and feel better.
Signs and symptoms of gastritis
- Pain in the upper belly
- Feeling bloated
- Nausea or vomiting
- Feeling full after small meals
- Black-colored bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
If you have worsening belly pain, notice black stools, or start vomiting blood, you should seek immediate medical care, Reddy says, as these can be signs of more severe health complications, like stomach ulcers.
What causes gastritis?
Gastritis can have several different causes, Reddy says. These include:
- Alcohol use. Alcohol can irritate and erode your stomach lining, making you more vulnerable to developing stomach inflammation and gastritis symptoms.
- Physical stress. A sudden and severe illness or injury can cause a stress response in the body that results in less blood flow to the stomach, making it more prone to inflammation.
- The overuse of certain medications, including common pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Taking these drugs too often or taking too many at once may harm the protective lining of your stomach.
- Eating certain foods, like chocolate, caffeine, spicy or greasy foods. These foods can irritate the stomach and contribute to inflammation, says Aram Ghazaleh, MD, a gastroenterologist with Gastro Health.
- A bacterial infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). This is a common bacteria that can often be silent for years, causing no symptoms, but then activate and start causing gastritis, says Ashil Gosalia, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Orlando Health Digestive Health Institute.
Up to half of the world's population is thought to have H.pylori infecting their stomach, but the majority of people with this bacteria do not develop gastritis, says Rabia De Latour, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Health.
Why this bacteria causes gastritis in some people and not others isn't yet clear, but it could be because some people are more genetically predisposed to the harmful effects of H. pylori.
How to treat gastritis
Treatment options for gastritis depend on the cause and severity of your condition. In general, treatment can include:
- Avoiding substances that are causing increased stomach acid production and inflammation, such as alcohol or NSAIDs. By avoiding these substances, many people can relieve their symptoms, Reddy says.
- Asking your doctor about prescription medications, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), or lansoprazole (Prevacid). These drugs are known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which are the strongest acid reducers available, Reddy says. These medications work by blocking the production of stomach acid.
- Trying a prescription medication called Sucralfate, which coats the inner lining of the stomach to prevent gastritis symptoms. This medication may be a better fit for you than PPIs if you also have stomach ulcers.
- If your gastritis is the result of a bacterial infection, treatment will involve an acid reducer, like Prilosec, along with antibiotics, like metronidazole or amoxicillin, for approximately 14 days to clear the infection.
- Eliminating trigger foods from your diet, such as caffeine, chocolate, spicy and greasy foods. These foods can irritate the stomach and make gastritis symptoms worse, Ghazelah says.
- Taking over-the-counter medications that suppress acid production, such as Pepcid and Zantac. These medications are known as H2 or acid blockers, which reduce the amount of acid that makes its way to your digestive tract.
How soon you will start feeling better can vary depending on the severity of your condition and how it is being treated. But in general, most people can expect to see symptom improvement within one to two weeks of starting treatment, Reddy says.
If left untreated, gastritis can lead to the development of stomach ulcers, and in rare cases, stomach cancer, says Ghazelah.
Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. Symptoms of gastritis include pain in the upper belly, feeling bloated, nausea or vomiting, and black-colored bowel movements.
Treatment for gastritis can include over-the-counter acid reducers, prescription medications, and avoiding triggers, like spicy food or alcohol.
Additionally, you can decrease your risk of developing gastritis by avoiding excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine and limiting your use of NSAIDs.
"If you are taking high doses of NSAIDs for migraines or arthritis, it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about perhaps stating a low dose antacid for stomach protection," Gosalia says.