Gastritis is a broad or general term used to refer to the irritation or inflammation of the stomach lining (mucosa). It can occur gradually (chronic gastritis) or suddenly (acute gastritis). Chronic gastritis means that the lining of the stomach has got eroded slowly over a long period of time.

It can be caused by either alcohol abuse, wherein, the chemicals in the alcohol have gradually led to damage of the mucus lining, or may occur due to use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, etc. Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori can also result in this condition.

Gastritis Symptoms

The problem with gastritis is that many people do not encounter any symptoms, which makes early diagnosis and treatment difficult. Nevertheless, take a look at the symptoms experienced by some people.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Belching
  • Diarrhea
  • Coated tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Hiccups
  • Chest pain
  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Burning sensation in upper abdomen
Gastritis can conduce to ulcers, which can result in worsening of the symptoms. There can be blood in one's vomit or stool, which can be an indication of bleeding in the stomach. This is a grave situation and needs medical attention as soon as possible. Such severe cases of gastritis can also be accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, and severe stomach pain. Gastritis symptoms vary from one individual to another. Some people do not encounter any of these symptoms, especially the elderly, who show no symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, indigestion, etc., and are suddenly taken ill with internal bleeding.

Gastritis in Children

Although gastritis is mostly found in adults, it can also be found in children. In kids, gastritis is usually idiopathic, which means it is triggered and supported by acid-pepsin, genetics, and stress. H. pylori plays a minimal role in spearheading gastritis in children. Symptoms of gastritis in children is more or less the same.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor growth
  • Heartburn
Children are also seen to complain of severe pain in the abdomen. The problem with these symptoms is that they are common to so many other medical conditions.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although most forms of chronic gastritis do not usually accompany symptoms, they can increase the risk of gastric polyps, peptic ulcer disease, and benign and malignant gastric tumors, which is why it is very important to diagnose the condition early and treat it as well. The most common method of diagnosis is by getting an endoscopy done with a biopsy of the stomach. Besides this the doctor may also use blood tests, stool tests, upper gastrointestinal (GI) series or tests for H. pylori infection to diagnose gastritis.

The treatment may vary according to the cause of the inflamed stomach condition. People suffering from acute gastritis should refrain from consuming foods that trigger gastritis such as deep-fried foods, fast foods, etc. If gastritis has been caused by H. pylori, then the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to heal the infection. Relief from gastritis can be temporarily relieved by taking antacids or milk of magnesia, however, it's best to consult your doctor before taking anything.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.