Gastritis - chronic

Alternative names
Chronic gastritis

Definition
Chronic gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach that occurs gradually and persists for a prolonged time.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Chronic gastritis may be caused by prolonged irritation from the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disorder), degeneration of the lining of the stomach with age, or chronic bile reflux.

Many people with chronic gastritis have no symptoms of the condition. Risk factors include infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, pernicious anemia, and use of NSAIDs.

Symptoms

     
  • Upper abdominal pain, possibly aggravated by eating  
  • Abdominal indigestion  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Nausea  
  • Vomiting  
  • Vomiting blood or coffee-ground like material  
  • Dark stools

Note: there may be no symptoms

Signs and tests

     
  • EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) and biopsy showing gastritis  
  • CBC showing anemia  
  • A guaiac stool test

Treatment
The treatment depends on the cause of the gastritis. Antibiotic therapy will treat chronic gastritis caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori.

Antacids or other medications, such as cimetidine (to decrease or neutralize gastric acid in the stomach), will usually eliminate the symptoms and promote healing. Medications known to cause gastritis should be discontinued. Gastritis caused by pernicious anemia is treated with Vitamin B12.

Expectations (prognosis)
Most gastritis improves rapidly with treatment. Prognosis depends on the underlying cause. Most chronic gastriris does not cause symptoms and does not result in significant illness.

Complications
Loss of blood and increased risk of gastric cancer are potential complications.

Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if symptoms of gastritis do not improve with treatment. Call your health care provider if you are vomiting blood or producing bloody stools.

Prevention
Avoid use of aspirin or NSAIDs if you are prone to gastritis.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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