Types of Gastritis

Types of Gastritis: Acute Gastritis to Chronic Gastritis

Acute Gastritis

Like chronic gastritis, acute gastritis includes inflammation of the stomach; acute gastritis is more symptomatic than its chronic counterpart and can include serious complications like hemorrhages and/or erosion. The most common cause of acute gastritis is the overuse of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) drugs like ibuprofen, sodium naproxen, and diclofenac. Other causes of acute gastritis can be alcohol abuse, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, a myocardial infarction, and even stress.

Acute gastritis can be diagnosed by its symptoms, or, more specifically, via tissue samples or endoscopy. Under a microscope, stomach tissue affected by acute gastritis appears red, inflamed, and contains excessive blood vessels (hyperemia). In more serious conditions, tissue death (necrosis) of stomach glands is possible. In mild cases, patients may have mild stomach irritability and indigestion. In moderate to severe cases, patients may have upper abdominal (epigastric) pain, nausea, and might even vomit blood.

Although there is no specific treatment guideline for acute gastritis, medicines and/or lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms. Antacids like famotidine (Pepcid) and proton pump inhibitors can help suppress excessive acid production. Patients affected with gastritis should also refrain from NSAID or alcohol use, as these substances can exacerbate symptoms. As with any medical condition, consult with your doctor for advice on treatment options.

Chronic Gastritis

The stomach lining includes glands that produce stomach acid and other important compounds such as enzyme pepsin to help break down foods and protect from infection. The stomach lining is also responsible for secreting mucus to protect itself from the strong acids in the stomach.

Chronic gastritis is the term used for when the stomach lining becomes inflamed repeatedly or for an extended period of time. When this occurs, the stomach lining loses protective cells and function. Chronic gastritis slowly wears away the stomach lining because it occurs over a longer period of time. Common symptoms of chronic gastritis include upper abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, loss of appetite, and indigestion. Although stomach irritation is common, it is not always a symptom of chronic gastritis.

There are several types of chronic gastritis that are classified by different causes. Type A is caused by dying stomach cells and can increase the risk of cancer, anemia, and vitamin deficiencies. Type B is caused by the H. pylori bacteria, and is the most common among the three. Lastly, type C can lead to stomach lining erosion and is caused by chemical irritants such as anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol, or bile.

The lifestyle and dietary habits are important when considering the possible increased risk for chronic gastritis, as they can affect changes in the stomach lining. Activities such as smoking, long-term consumption of alcohol, and having a high-fat or high-salt diet are associated with increased risk of developing chronic gastritis.

Chronic gastritis is diagnosed through a series of tests through a licensed physician. The most common way to treat gastritis is through medication and dietary changes, which can vary depending on the type of chronic gastritis. Without proper treatment, chronic gastritis can continue for years so it is important to consult a doctor immediately if symptoms of chronic gastritis persist.

Atrophic Gastritis

Atrophic gastritis, also known as Type A or B gastritis, is a subtype of chronic gastritis. The key difference between atrophic and other forms of gastritis is the death of stomach glands and their replacement with intestinal and fibrous tissues. The stomach must secrete essential chemicals like hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and intrinsic factor to digestive food. Atrophic gastritis, however, directly interferes with this stomach function because it kills the cells required to produce them.

Atrophic gastritis can cause serious health complications like Vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies. Treatment options may include antibiotics, antacids, iron supplements, and/or B12 supplements. As with any medical condition, consult with your doctor to see what treatment is best for you.

Antral Gastritis

Antral gastritis is a less common form of stomach inflammation than acute or chronic gastritis. Antral gastritis type is unique in that it occurs in the lower portion of the stomach, also known as the antrum. Older adults are most likely to have this type of gastritis. Antral gastritis can be caused by a virus, bacteria, stomach injury, or erosive medications. The main symptom for this type of gastritis is indigestion. Additionally, inflammation in the stomach can cause some patients to feel a burning sensation in the abdomen.

While the main symptom of antral gastritis is indigestion, antral gastritis can also cause other typical gastritis symptoms such as nausea, bloating, flatulence, and changes in stool color. Antral gastritis can be treated with stomach antacids or antibiotics if a bacterial infection is present. As with any medical condition, consult with your doctor to see what treatment is best for you.

Autoimmune Gastritis

Autoimmune atrophic gastritis is a rare chronic inflammatory disease of the stomach lining. The main difference between autoimmune gastritis and the more common forms is that in autoimmune gastritis, the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies stomach cells as “foreign.” This can cause disruption in the production of gastric acid. In addition, the cells affected by autoimmune gastritis are vital to absorbing Vitamin B12, oftentimes resulting in pernicious anemia.

The main symptoms of autoimmune gastritis are nausea, vomiting, a feeling of “fullness” in the upper abdomen after eating, and/or abdominal pain; some patients, however, may not express symptoms at all. Autoimmune gastritis can also lead to more serious complications like folate, iron, and/or B12 deficiency. Research has also shown that autoimmune gastritis may be responsible for the development of some forms of stomach cancer.

As with most autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for autoimmune gastritis. However, treating its complications like B12 and iron deficiencies can help patients live more comfortably with the disease. Most importantly, patients diagnosed with autoimmune gastritis should have their levels of B12 and iron routinely checked for the rest of their life. As with any medical condition, consult with your doctor to see what treatment is best for you.

Erosive Gastritis

Erosive gastritis is a less common form of gastritis among patients and typically leads to the formation of ulcers and bleeding in the lining of the stomach instead of much inflammation. Although erosive gastritis is typically acute, it can also be chronic with little to no symptoms. In severe cases, erosive gastritis can result in extreme discomfort every time food is consumed. Erosive gastritis typically includes different symptoms as well, such as vomiting of blood or black colored stool.

Erosive gastritis is most commonly caused by extreme consumption of certain drugs like steroids, NSAIDs, or anti-inflammatory drugs. It may also emerge through damages to the stomach lining through medical conditions like Crohn’s disease, infections from bacteria like E.coli, and food allergies. Because the causes of erosive gastritis are similar to the causes of general gastritis, the diagnosis for erosive gastritis can be more challenging. A doctor may have to carry out additional tests to confirm the diagnosis, or even take an x-ray of the stomach. Those who show persistent symptoms are recommended to consult their doctor as soon as possible to receive the proper treatment and diet recommendations.

Alcoholic Gastritis

Alcoholic gastritis is the gastritis that is caused by the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol. Alcohol can limit stomach’s ability to produce acids, which often results in inflammation.

Alcoholic gastritis’ symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen area, loss of appetite, vomiting, or bloating. It is possible for a doctor to diagnose alcoholic gastritis from a patient’s history with heavy drinking and symptoms consistent with gastritis. If a patient stops drinking but has continuing symptoms, a physician may perform an endoscopy to seek any other reasons for such symptoms and the reasons for discomfort. Consult your physician if you have a history of alcohol use and are experiencing digestive discomfort.

Duodenitis

A condition very similar to gastritis, duodenitis occurs when damage and inflammation occurs within the first section of the small intestine. In many ways, the symptoms of the condition are similar to gastritis with abdominal pain, bloating, discolored stool and nausea. The main causes of this condition are similarly the H. pylori bacteria and NSAID drugs such as ibuprofen. Treatment of this condition will proceed with a similar course of action to the treatment of gastritis.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms or conditions fitting the descriptions above, you can make an appointment with your primary care physician or see an urgent care in order to be tested.

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Shannon Chapman

Shannon Chapman

Shannon enjoys breaking down technical subjects and giving others the tools to make informed decisions. Her interests include behavioral economics, sustainable living, meditation, and healthy cooking.

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