What is Stomach Inflammation?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Harkin
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Inflammation of the lining of the stomach is called gastritis. The most common symptoms of stomach inflammation are nausea and vomiting, burping, bloating, a burning sensation in your stomach, and weight loss. Erosive and nonerosive are the two types of gastritis.

A protective mucous layer lines the stomach insulating it from the strong acidic gastric juices used to break down food. The lining is constantly being naturally destroyed by gastric juices and replenished, but if this process is disrupted, the mucous layer of the stomach can become inflamed. In erosive gastritis, stomach inflammation results from the inability of the stomach to repair the eroding mucosal lining and is caused by long term, regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), excessive alcohol use, and physiological stress. Nonerosive gastritis involves a variety of mechanisms which damage the mucous lining. It is caused primarily by infection of the stomach by Helicobacter pylori, but can also be caused by the inability to absorb B12 through the stomach, a condition called a pernicious anemia, or bile reflux disease.


Stomach inflammation is confirmed using one or more of four possible tests. An upper endoscopy involves passing a camera through a tube into the stomach and examining the health of the stomach lining, and if stomach bleeding is observed an endoscopic hemostasis can be performed to control it. A blood test can be carried out to test for pernicious anemia and the presence of Helicobacter pylori. A stool test can also be used to identify the presence of Helicobacter pylori and to test for blood in the stool, a sign of advanced gastritis. Finally, a urea breath test is a rapid test for Helicobacter pylori detection before and after treatment.

A variety of medications can help the symptoms of stomach inflammation. Antacids can help by balancing the stomach acids, making them less corrosive to the damaged stomach lining. Acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors slow the pumping of hydrogen ions into the stomach, preventing the combination of hydrogen ions with chloride ions to make the hydrochloric acid component of the gastric juices. The result is a less acidic stomach.

When stomach inflammation is caused by the over-use of NSAIDs and alcohol, the typical course of treatment is to stop or reduce the NSAIDs or alcohol to give the delicate mucous lining time to heal. Sometimes an antacid, acid blocker, or proton pump inhibitor is used to control symptoms until the lining is healed. Stomach inflammations, caused by an infection of Helicobacter pylori, is typically eradicated using a combination of two or three antibiotics along with a proton pump inhibitor.


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