The term "gastritis" refers to inflammation of the lining (mucosa) of the stomach. However, this term is also used when there is redness (erythema) of the gastric mucosa at endoscopy, although this may not always be accurate.
Some types of gastritis may carry long term an increased risk of gastric cancer. For instance, if there is evidence of intestinal metaplasia (change in the stomach lining), chronic atrophic gastritis, or dysplasia on the gastric biopsies. Your gastroenterologist will discuss the importance of these findings and whether there is a need for a follow-up gastroscopy, and if so, how frequently this should be done.
Cause of Gastritis
There are many causes of gastritis, some of which are listed here: "Toxic chemicals and medications: strong alcohol, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), bile (refluxing from the duodenum)" Infections: Helicobacter Pylori (see in index) "Allergic and immune conditions Radiation 'Vascular diseases' Granulomatous conditions: Crohn's disease, Sarcoidosis
Patients with gastritis may have no symptoms. However, common symptoms are: loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting; discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, particularly after eating. Weight loss may also occur. Vomiting of blood (haematemesis) may occur if there is ulceration.
Diagnosis can only be made by examination of biopsies of the stomach by a pathologist, demonstrating increased inflammatory cells, damage to the most superficial layer of the lining (epithelium), changes to the gastric glands, and other features.
The first step is to remove the cause - eg. cease the medication or alcohol, or treat helicobacter pylori infection if there is evidence of this.
Patients with gastritis will usually benefit from acid reduction therapy (eg. with histamine-2 receptor antagonist) for a few weeks or months, to control symptoms. Bismuth and sucralfate are still occasionally used.
If aspirin or NSAIDs are the cause of the gastritis, reduce those medications and use a proton pump inhibitor.