Gastritis – causes and symptoms

Inflammation of the lining of the stomach is called gastritis. It occurs in four forms: acute, chronic, granulomatous and hypertrophic gastritis.

The most common causes of gastritis are:

1.Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. It is estimated that about 50% of the world’s population is infected with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which can be transmitted from person to person or through contaminated food and water. Most infected people have no complications, but in some patients, due to changes in the mucosa, HP infection can cause acute or chronic gastritis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, and gastric cancer. There are probably several factors that influence the evolution of the infection, such as genetic predisposition, smoking, stress, reduced immunity, etc., which explain why in some people the infection goes unnoticed, and in others complications occur.
2.Using NSAIDs. NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are drugs that have primarily anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Excessive use of these drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) can cause damage to the gastric mucosa, leading to acute or chronic gastritis followed by serious complications.
3.Stress. Excessive stress on the body caused by extensive and difficult operations, injuries, burns or severe infections, can be the cause of acute gastritis.
4.Alcohol. Alcohol can cause irritation and erosion of the gastric mucosa. The stomach becomes vulnerable to the action of gastric juices, thus increasing the risk of acute gastritis.
5.Yolk reflux. Yolk is a yellowish-green liquid, which contains substances that participate in the digestion and resorption of fats. It is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When released from the gallbladder, the bile travels through the bile ducts and ends up in the small intestine. Under normal conditions and in the preserved function of the pyloric sphincter (muscle with ring-shaped muscle fibers in the lower part of the stomach), biliary reflux (return of bile to the stomach) is prevented. However, in case of impaired function of the pyloric sphincter or its surgical removal, it allows the bile to enter the stomach, and thus irritation of the mucous membranes and subsequent occurrence of gastritis.
6.Autoimmune disease. Autoimmune gastritis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes, which is the result of an immune response by the body directed against its own cells in the gastric mucosa. This autoimmune reaction leads to damage to the mucosa, and thus to gastritis. This type of gastritis is more common in patients with other autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland) and type 1 diabetes.

The clinical picture is individual. Gastritis may not show any symptoms, but if it is present, the most common symptoms and signs of gastritis are:

-Feeling of bloating in the stomach;
-Decreased appetite;
-Halitosis (bad breath);
-Heartburn in the period between meals and / or at night;
-If gastric bleeding is present, haematemesis (vomiting of blood) and / or melena (black stools) may occur.

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