Heartburn, acidity of the stomach and difficulty in digesting are symptoms that are often attributed to gastritis. However, in most cases, gastritis doesnt have any symptoms.
So when is gatritis the cause and how do we recognize it?
Prof. Alessandro Repici, Director of Endoscopy and Gastroenterology at Humanitas discussed this in a recent interview with Corriere della Sera.
What is gastritis and how is it provoked?
Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of stomach. It can occur in an acute form causing sudden symptoms, or over time with slow but constant symptoms. About 50% of gastritis is caused by a bacterium, known as Helicobacter pylori. In the long run, it can become cancerous if not removed. Gastritis can also be caused by taking excessive NSAIDs (painkillers) or Cardioaspirin, used in cardiovascular prevention. Finally, smoking, alcohol, fatty foods, fried foods and stress can cause gastritis.
What are the symptoms of gastritis?
Generally gastritis has no symptoms. Only in its acute form, you may experience localized pain or burning. However, this discomfort decreases if you ingest food. If the burning sensation increases after a meal then it is very likely that this is a gastroesophageal reflux.
How do we recognize gastritis?
The most suitable test to diagnose gastritis is definitely gastroscopy, which is associated with the biopsy of certain fragments of gastric mucosa. This exam also allows you to find out if the stomach has Helicobacter pylori and any ulcers. Specifically, an examination of breath or stool is sufficient to test for the presence of Helicobacter pylori in your stomach.
What are the main treatments?
To treat gastritis you can take drugs that inhibit gastric secretion known as proton pump inhibitors. If the Helicobacter pylori bacterium is present, you will be prescribed with antibiotics for a period of 10-14 days. Generally, combating gastritis requires a healthy lifestyle, including:
- a diet free of fats and fried foods
- avoiding large meals
- eating slowly
- no smoking and alcohol
- If possible, stay away from stress