Gastritis is the term used to describe various conditions that lead to inflammation of the stomach lining. In most cases this inflammation occurs due to bacteria. The same bacteria are also involved in the development of stomach ulcers. There can be other triggers of gastritis as well such as intake of certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption and injury. Gastritis may be acute, in which case there is a sudden onset, or it can be chronic and may develop gradually over a period of time. Some individuals may go on to develop stomach ulcers due to gastritis. In most cases though, gastritis is not very serious and can be treated easily.
Symptoms of Gastritis
The common gastritis symptoms include:
- Burning pain the abdomen. The pain may either lessen or become worse after meals.
- A sensation of fullness after meals
In many cases gastritis may be asymptomatic.
Stomach trouble and indigestion are common conditions that affect almost all of us from time to time. At most times, these conditions are mild and subside quickly. However if you experience gastritis symptoms for more than a week, it is advisable to consult your doctor. It is also essential to seek prompt medical care if you start vomiting blood or notice bloody discharge in the stools.
Causes of Gastritis
The symptoms of gastritis occur when the lining that protects the stomach gets damaged. This lining is composed of a mucus membrane barrier that protects the stomach against damage from exposure to the digestive acids within. These gastric acids aid in the digestion of food, but when the barrier gets damaged or becomes weak, the digestive acids cause inflammation and damage to the stomach lining. This can occur on account of several conditions. Some factors that contribute to gastritis include:
- Bacteria: Chronic gastritis may occur due to infection by the bacteria known as helicobacter pylori, which is most common and known to pass from one individual to another. Many people who are infected with the bacteria do not experience any symptoms. But in some people, the bacteria may weaken and damage the stomach lining. This can lead to gastritis and stomach ulcers. The susceptibility to the bacteria may be due to genetic factors. Those who smoke or suffer from high stress levels may also be vulnerable to the bacterial infection.
- Intake of Certain Medications: Certain medications, especially pain relievers, may contribute to gastritis. Individuals who use these medications excessively are more likely to develop stomach problems. The pain relievers may affect a substance that is involved in protecting the stomach lining.
- Age: The lining of the stomach becomes thinner and weaker with age and hence older individuals are more at risk for gastritis. Older people are also more vulnerable to infection by helicobacter pylori.
- Alcohol: A high consumption of alcohol can lead to symptoms of gastritis. This is because alcohol irritates the stomach lining and can also erode it in time.
- Stress: When the body is under stress due to injury, severe infection or surgery, the risk of acute gastritis is high.
- Autoimmune disorders: There is a type of gastritis, known as autoimmune gastritis, which occurs when the immune system attacks the cells in the stomach lining. This can cause erosion of the lining. This disorder usually occurs in individuals affected by other autoimmune disorders. Deficiency of vitamin B12 may also be linked to this type of gastritis.
- Bile Reflux Disease: Bile which is produced by the liver helps in the digestion of fats. It is stored in the gallbladder and when it is released, it passes into the small intestine. The bile is prevented from entering the stomach because of the pyloric valve. If this valve does not function properly or is removed, the bile can enter the stomach and erode the lining.
- Gastritis may be associated with parasitic infections.
If gastritis is not treated properly, it can result in bleeding from the stomach and ulcers. Chronic gastritis can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Remedies for Gastritis
Mild gastritis does not require any intensive treatment regiment or medical attention. Home treatments with over natural remedies for gastritis and lifestyle modifications can be extremely effective. Lifestyle and diet modifications are a prerequisite to any treatment plan and are recommended by doctors as well. Home remedies and herbal concoctions can also help, but you should exercise some amount of caution and healthy skepticism when using these remedies, as not all of them are scientifically proven. Here are some tips and remedies for gastritis:
Consume smaller meals frequently during the day. This reduces any stress that your digestive system would otherwise be subjected to.
Refrain from eating spicy, oily or acidic foods as they can cause irritation to the stomach.
Avoid drinking alcohol as it can damage the mucus lining of the stomach.
If you take pain relievers often, seek your doctors advice about changing your medication. Also try and find natural alternatives that do not pose such a risk of side effects.
Stress can aggravate the symptoms of gastritis. It may not be possible to eliminate stress from your life altogether, but you can take measures to manage it effectively. Try relaxation methods such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
Rice gruel is one of the most effective gastritis home remedies. Consume one or two bowls of rice gruel every day.
There are a number of herbal remedies that are also extremely effective in the treatment of gastritis, but you need to exercise caution because of the risk of side effects or drug interactions. The herb liquorice is has been found to help treat various gastric problems including a helicobacter pylori bacteria infection.
Some studies have shown that drinking green tea may help to lower the risk of developing gastritis. Green tea contains substances known as catechins which have anti-bacterial properties and work as antioxidants. They help to restrict the growth of the helicobacter pylori bacteria.
Gas and bloating may sometimes occur due to gastritis. Gas trouble home remedies include ginger and salt. Add a pinch of salt to a few small pieces of ginger and chew on them whenever you experience stomach trouble.
Coconut water is an extremely healthy drink. It aids in digestion and also supplies vitamins and minerals to the body. Try to have a glass of fresh coconut water twice or thrice in the day to soothe the stomach and give you quick relief from discomfort.
Carom seeds are a popular treatment for gastritis. Add carom seeds to water and bring to a boil. Cool the solution and administer a single tablespoon of the solution after meals.
Diet for Gastritis
A diet for gastritis must be balanced and healthy. Here are some helpful diet tips for controlling gastritis:
Avoid overeating as it can lead to acidity. You can avoid overeating by eating your regular meals on time.
Restrict milk and dairy intake to three servings or less each day. Opt for low fat or fat free dairy products as this will keep the production of stomach acids in check.
Avoid foods that irritate the stomach such as spices, alcohol and hot peppers.
Restrict your intake of caffeinated beverages and foods such as coffee, colas and chocolates.
Reduce your intake of citrus juices, tomatoes and foods rich in fat. These foods can contribute to and aggravate heartburn. Garlic, onions and certain spices can also irritate the stomach. If you experience adverse symptoms after consuming such foods, remove them from your diet.
Foods such as cabbage, broccoli, peas and dried beans are known to aggravate problems like indigestion and gas and hence should be avoided.
Probiotics prevent the helicobacter pylori bacteria from adhering to the cells in the stomach lining. Consume foods that contain probiotics, like yogurt, for relief from gastritis symptoms.
You can consult a dietician if you find it difficult to regulate your diet by yourself. The important point to remember is that foods which that irritate or cause pain in the stomach should be avoided. To avoid putting strain on the stomach, consume only those foods which can be easily digested.
Foods that should be included in a gastritis diet are:
- Green leafy vegetables.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Wheat bran
- Low fat or fat free dairy products
- Carrot juice
- Coconut water
Foods to be excluded from a gastritis diet include:
- Red meat
- Orange juice
- Spicy foods
Suggestion for Gastritis
Your food habits may also contribute to symptoms of gastritis. Adopt the following tips to protect against gastric trouble:
- Eat slowly and make sure to chew properly. This will allow digestion to take place properly and will help to prevent gastritis.
- Avoid eating when your stomach is full as this trigger an excess production of digestive juices.
- Divide your meals into smaller portions and eat frequently throughout the day. Most health experts recommend eating a small meal after every three hours.
- Stay away from any foods that produce allergic symptoms.
- Nicole Wittschier, Gerhard Faller, A. Hensel, Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from Liquorice roots (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) inhibit adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric mucosa, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 125, Issue 2, 7 September 2009, Pages 218-223, ISSN 0378-8741, 10.1016/j.jep.2009.07.009.
- Toshio Fukai, Ai Marumo, Kiyoshi Kaitou, Toshihisa Kanda, Sumio Terada, Taro Nomura, Anti-Helicobacter pylori flavonoids from licorice extract, Life Sciences, Volume 71, Issue 12, 9 August 2002, Pages 1449-1463, ISSN 0024-3205, 10.1016/S0024-3205(02)01864-7.
- J.M.T Hamilton-Miller, The role of probiotics in the treatment and prevention of Helicobacter pylori infection, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Volume 22, Issue 4, October 2003, Pages 360-366, ISSN 0924-8579, 10.1016/S0924-8579(03)00153-5.
- Calin Stoicov, Reza Saffari, JeanMarie Houghton, Green tea inhibits Helicobacter growth in vivo and in vitro, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Volume 33, Issue 5, May 2009, Pages 473-478, ISSN 0924-8579, 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2008.10.032.
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