Your stomach lining, or mucosa, contains glands that produce
stomach acid and an enzyme called pepsin. Your stomach acid breaks down food
and pepsin breaks down protein. The acid in your stomach is strong enough to
damage your stomach, so your stomach lining also secretes mucus to protect
Chronic gastritis occurs when your stomach lining becomes swollen
or inflamed. Bacteria, excessive alcohol and caffeine intake, or stress can
lead to inflammation. When this inflammation occurs, your stomach lining
produces less acid, pepsin, and protective mucus.
If you have this condition, you might feel full after eating just
a few bites. This is called early satiety. Chronic gastritis might be painless
or cause dull, persistent stomach pain. It occurs slowly over time, as opposed
to acute gastritis, which comes on suddenly.
In some cases, chronic gastritis is associated with ulcers and
may increase your risk of stomach cancer. In most people, however, the
condition gets better quickly with treatment and has few lasting effects.
Are the Symptoms of Chronic Gastritis?
You may have chronic gastritis and not experience any symptoms.
People who do have symptoms often experience the following:
- upper abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
Stomach irritation is common and isn’t always a symptom of
chronic gastritis. Call your doctor if your stomach irritation lasts for longer
than a week.
In more extreme cases, you may experience stomach bleeding or
black stools. Seek treatment immediately if you have black stools, vomit blood,
or have a persistent stomachache.
Causes Chronic Gastritis?
The following can irritate the lining of your stomach and lead to
- the long-term use of certain medications, such
as aspirin and ibuprofen
- excessive alcohol consumption
- the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which causes stomach ulcers
- certain illnesses, such as kidney failure
- a viral infection in a weakened immune system
- persistent, intense stress
- bile flowing into the stomach, or bile reflux
Are the Risk Factors for Chronic Gastritis?
You’re at greater risk for chronic gastritis if your lifestyle
and dietary habits increase the acidic content of your stomach. If you
frequently consume large amounts of the following, you’re at greater risk for
- citrus fruits
Similarly, the long-term consumption of alcohol can lead to
A stressful lifestyle or a traumatic experience that increases
anger and hostility can also increase the amount of acid in your stomach. If
you have a weakened immune system or certain illnesses like Crohn’s disease,
you’re also more at risk for chronic gastritis.
Is Chronic Gastritis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. A
series of tests may also be necessary, including:
- a test for the bacteria that causes stomach
- a stool test to look for stomach bleeding
- a blood count and an anemia test
- an endoscopy, which involves the use of a camera
attached to a long tube that’s inserted into your mouth and down into your
Is Chronic Gastritis Treated?
Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce your stomach acid.
The most common medicines to reduce gastric acid are:
- antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer and Tums
- H2 antagonists, such as Zantac
- proton pump inhibitors that are available both
over the counter and by prescription, such as Prilosec
Reducing or eliminating aspirin and similar medicines is also
recommended to decrease stomach irritation.
Your doctor might recommend a bland diet to reduce stomach
irritation. You should avoid consuming:
- fried foods, such as french fries or other
vegetables fried in oil
- citrus juices
Recommended foods generally include foods with small amounts of the
Recommended foods include:
- all vegetables and fruits, except citrus fruits
- low-fat dairy products
- lean meats
- pasta and rice prepared with little or no fat
Is the Outlook for People with Chronic Gastritis?
How well you recover from chronic gastritis depends on the
underlying cause of the condition. If an acidic diet is causing your condition,
limiting certain foods and taking medication can keep your symptoms under
control. Commonly, the condition will disappear and return again if you resume
an acidic diet. If the condition is allowed to continue without treatment, the risks
include stomach bleeding and gastric cancer.
Can Chronic Gastritis Be Prevented?
You can help prevent gastritis by
monitoring your diet and stress levels. Limiting alcohol and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, may
also help to prevent the condition.