Gastritis: Causes, Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms, and Treatment

Gastritis is the inflammation or irritation or the lining of the stomach. The primary function of the stomach is digestion, which involves mixing, grinding and evacuation small rations of chyme, and secreting acid, mucus and enzymes. The most common cause is infection by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that thrives in the mucus lining of the stomach. It is the same bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. Gastritis is classified as either as acute or chronic. Acute gastritis occurs suddenly. On the contrary, chronic gastritis occurs gradually. Fortunately, majority of all cases of gastritis do not result to permanent damage of the stomach lining. However, if left untreated, it can cause severe blood loss and increase chances of developing stomach cancer.

Causes of Gastritis

There are many potential causes of gastritis, which include infections, irritations, and autoimmune disorders. The following are the common causes:


  • Bacteria (most common: H. pylori)
  • Virus (typically herpes simplex virus)
  • Parasite
  • Fungus


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Drinking coffee and acidic beverages
  • Eating or drinking corrosive/ caustic substances, such as poisons
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Chronic used of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Trauma to the stomach lining


  • Pernicious anemia
  • Systemic diseases, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Bile reflux

Risk Factors of Gastritis

Anyone is at risk of getting gastritis, however, having the following factors may increase a person’s chance of developing this inflammation:

  • H. pylori infection
  • Alcoholism
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Herpes simplex virus or cytomegalovirus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Older age

Signs and Symptoms of Gastritis

The cardinal symptoms of gastritis are recurring stomach upset and pain. The following signs and symptoms may or may not occur with this condition:

  • Abdominal pain  and bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea and vomiting, which may appear to be tainted with blood or material that has the same appearance as coffee grounds
  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Loss of appetite
Abdominal pain commonly occurs in gastritis

Abdominal pain commonly occurs in gastritis

Treatment for Gastritis

Treatment for gastritis will depend on the cause of the problem. Not all cases of gastritis will require medical help, as it can resolve itself over time or can be eased by avoiding the aforementioned risk factors. Treatment includes:

  • Take antacids and other drugs that will decrease stomach acid
  • Avoid eating hot and spicy foods.
  • Avoid high fat foods.
  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • B12 shots for pernicious anemia
  • Avoid taking NSAIDs and use other pain relievers instead.

Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach that can be caused by infection, irritation and other preexisting conditions. To learn more about how to recognize signs and symptoms of medical problems, enroll in First Aid Training.

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