Gastritis is a common medical condition that affects millions of people. It is an inflammation within the lining of the stomach that is possibly caused by infections, irritants, backup of bile into the stomach and autoimmune disorders. People who have gastritis may develop peptic ulcers that eat away at the stomach lining and may affect the small intestine. If ulcers develop and are untreated, bleeding may occur. In many cases, no specific cause for the inflammation is found and no permanent damage is done to the stomach lining. The most common signs and symptoms associated with gastritis are heartburn, hiccups, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and dark colored stool.
As mentioned, gastritis can be caused by infection. The infection could be bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic. Irritation to the stomach lining is another common cause for the development of gastritis. This irritation can be caused by many things. The long-term use of medications, including aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications, can cause an irritation. Consumption of alcohol, coffee and acidic beverages are also causes. Cigarette smoking has also been linked to gastritis. Many times when patients are stressed, their body will secrete gastric acid. This acid will irritate the lining of the stomach, causing gastritis.
Diagnosing gastritis consists of several tests that must be performed. Usually, the first test is an endoscopy of the stomach. During this procedure, a small tube is inserted down the throat into the stomach. A small camera is located at the tip of the tube, allowing doctors to visualize the walls and lining of the stomach. A biopsy may be taken at the same time if necessary. Other tests include stool tests, blood tests and breath tests. The stool test is helpful to determine if blood is present. Many times, a biopsy of the esophagus will be taken to determine the exact cause of the discomfort being experienced. Once the diagnosis of gastritis is made, there are various preventative methods and treatments.
It is suggested patients make lifestyle changes and avoid the use of irritants that could cause attacks of gastritis. Removing these irritants will help prevent the formation of ulcers. Many times, just removing these irritants from the patient’s life will cure the gastritis completely. In some cases, medications will be prescribed to relieve symptoms and treat infections or complications from present ulcers. Many patients opt to use herbal remedies to control gastritis. These herbs include asparagus, bitter chamomile, fennel, ginger, licorice, rhubarb and sandalwood. It is advised to keep your diet bland to reduce any further irritation to the stomach. Salt and spices will cause irritation and increase inflammation. Most patients are told to steer clear of salt. Some patients have found that eating a banana in the morning will help to reduce the acid in the stomach.
Aside from herbal cures, vitamins play a large role in relieving symptoms of gastritis. Vitamin C is one of the recommended vitamin supplements to use. Many people with chronic gastritis have a low level of vitamin C. this powerful vitamin is an antioxidant and neutralized acids in the stomach. In studies, the vitamin C reduced the infection caused by H. pylori, one of the most common infections causing gastritis. Vitamin C also absorbs iron and calcium salt in the body. These aggravate the digestive process. An increase of vitamin C can ease the process and calm the irritation in the lining of the stomach. Though it is not a cure for gastritis, vitamin C will make a significant difference for those who suffer with chronic gastritis.