When digestive juices in the lining of the stomach (a mucous-lined barrier that protects the stomach wall) react with any weaknesses, inflammation occurs, causing gastritis. Weaknesses occur when the stomach lining becomes thin or damaged due to any number of diseases, conditions (or infections) or other triggers present in the body.
Causes of gastritis
The nature of the condition centres around inflammation and as such, triggers with the potential to cause irritation in the stomach lining either through infection, or foods and medications consumed are the primary sources of the condition.
Excessive alcohol consumption (alcohol abuse), chronic vomiting (often a red flag for eating disorders such as bulimia), extreme stress, or the use of medications such as aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs may also cause gastritis.
Other common causes are:
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori): A bacteria that thrives in the mucous lining of the stomach. If left untreated, this infection can cause ulcers, and in more severe cases, stomach cancer. This bacterial infection is usually passed from person-to-person, although it can also be transmitted through contaminated water or food that is consumed.
- Gastrointestinal bacterial and viral infections
- Bile reflux: This is a backflow of bile from the bile tract into the stomach (connecting the liver and gallbladder).
Symptoms of gastritis
Symptoms and severity do tend to vary from person to person, and in some cases, are so mild that they are hardly noticeable (or perceived as problematic).
Signs and symptoms that are most common are:
- An upset stomach, nausea and vomiting (which can include bringing up blood or ‘coffee ground-like material’)
- Indigestion (a gnawing or burning sensation – an ache or pain which worsens between meals or at night)
- A feeling of fullness or bloating in the upper abdomen (particularly after consuming a meal)
- Loss of appetite