Diagnoses A-Z

Acute Gastritis Symptoms, Causes And Treatment Options

Learn about acute gastritis, including symptoms, causes, treatment options, and when to seek consultation. Or take a quiz to get a second opinion on your acute gastritis from our A.I. health assistant.

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Acute Gastritis Symptom Checker

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Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Symptoms
  3. Potential Causes
  4. Treatment, Prevention and Relief
  5. When to Seek Further Consultation
  6. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  7. References

What Is Acute Gastritis?

Summary

When something interferes with the protective mechanisms of the stomach, a range of problems can occur from mild indigestion to deadly bleeding ulcers. Gastritis is an umbrella term for one of the most common problems, inflammation of the stomach lining.

Symptoms include nausea or vomiting, a loss of appetite, belly pain, bloating and vomiting or passing blood in severe cases.

While chronic gastritis can be a lifelong affliction, acute gastritis clears up within days to weeks of onset.

Recommended care

You should see your doctor within a few days. There, they would assess whether you require a breath test for the bug, H. Pylori, and/or a test where they put a camera down the throat to look at the stomach wall. Treatment is dependent on the outcomes of the doctor's visit. If it's just because of a medication, the first treatment would be to stop it. If it's an infection, antibiotics would be appropriate. An autoimmune reaction might require supplements with Vitamin B12. Taking an antacid may be necessary for more than one of these scenarios.

How common is acute gastritis?

Uncommon

Never-symptoms

Symptoms that never occur with acute gastritis:

  • Fever

Acute Gastritis Symptoms

The lining of your stomach, the gastric mucosa, is under constant assault. It lives in a bath of hydrochloric stomach acid. It has to tolerate everything we eat and drink, and stand up to the enzymes your body uses to break those things down. Gastritis, discussed prior, is inflammation of the stomach lining due to a failure of total protection.

Many people with gastritis have no symptoms at all [1]. When symptoms do occur, they are often vague. In general, the symptoms resemble what most people would call an "upset stomach" or bellyache. These common symptoms include the following [1-3,5]

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Belly pain: Primarily in the upper abdomen
  • Feeling bloated: Particularly after eating

Erosive gastritis

Sometimes, the same things that cause gastritis can wear down the stomach lining to the point that a sore opens up, known as an ulcer. During this more severe form, known as erosive gastritis, there can also be bleeding into the stomach. Some symptoms that indicate this may have occurred include the following [1-3,5].

  • Vomiting blood (hematemesis): Vomit may be red or have a "coffee-ground appearance"
  • Black or bloody stools (melena)
  • Fatigue, dizziness or fainting: This can result if there is significant blood loss (known as anemia)

Acute Gastritis Causes

In general, gastritis occurs when the stomach's protective mechanisms are overpowered by the things they have to protect against. This can happen because the protections have been weakened or because the attack has worsened. Most often, it's some combination of the two. Things that tend to disrupt this balance include the following [1-6].

Anti-inflammatory medications

These include steroids like prednisone or methylprednisolone (Medrol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin. When NSAIDs reduce inflammation, they also decrease some of the protective mechanisms keeping the stomach healthy. In small doses the effect isn't noticeable, but with large doses and regular use, conditions like gastritis set in.

Infection with H. pylori

H. pylori is a bacteria that is now understood to be a major cause of gastritis and several other conditions. For many years it was believed that no bacteria could survive in the acidic environment of our stomachs. Dr. Barry Marshall infected himself with H. pylori to convince the scientific community of its role in stomach disease [9]. For his efforts, Dr. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize, largely because H. pylori turns out to be an incredibly common and significant cause of stomach disease.

Excess alcohol consumption

This is another common cause of acute gastritis. This usually requires large quantities consumed regularly, but some people are more susceptible than others and can experience stomach irritation from relatively small quantities of alcohol.

Rarer causes

The consumption of certain caustic substances (such as during a suicide attempt) or the use of illicit drugs (specifically cocaine) can cause significant damage to the stomach lining. The same is true of exposure to large doses of radiation, typically as part of cancer treatment. Certain autoimmune diseases, where the body gets attacked by its own defense systems, can also target the stomach lining. Lastly, almost any type of very severe illness can disrupt the body's protective mechanisms can cause stress gastritis.

Acute Gastritis Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out if your symptoms point to acute gastritis

Treatment Options and Prevention for Acute Gastritis

In general, gastritis occurs when the stomach's protective mechanisms are overpowered by the things they have to protect against. This can happen because the protections have been weakened or because the attack has worsened. Most often, it's some combination of the two. Things that tend to disrupt this balance include the following [1-6].

Anti-inflammatory medications

These include steroids like prednisone or methylprednisolone (Medrol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin. When NSAIDs reduce inflammation, they also decrease some of the protective mechanisms keeping the stomach healthy. In small doses the effect isn't noticeable, but with large doses and regular use, conditions like gastritis set in.

Infection with H. pylori

H. pylori is a bacteria that is now understood to be a major cause of gastritis and several other conditions. For many years it was believed that no bacteria could survive in the acidic environment of our stomachs. Dr. Barry Marshall infected himself with H. pylori to convince the scientific community of its role in stomach disease [9]. For his efforts, Dr. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Prize, largely because H. pylori turns out to be an incredibly common and significant cause of stomach disease.

Excess alcohol consumption

This is another common cause of acute gastritis. This usually requires large quantities consumed regularly, but some people are more susceptible than others and can experience stomach irritation from relatively small quantities of alcohol.

Rarer causes

The consumption of certain caustic substances (such as during a suicide attempt) or the use of illicit drugs (specifically cocaine) can cause significant damage to the stomach lining. The same is true of exposure to large doses of radiation, typically as part of cancer treatment. Certain autoimmune diseases, where the body gets attacked by its own defense systems, can also target the stomach lining. Lastly, almost any type of very severe illness can disrupt the body's protective mechanisms can cause stress gastritis.

When to Seek Further Consultation for Acute Gastritis

Most cases of gastritis aren't dangerous or serious, but they can be quite unpleasant [1]. Anyone who is significantly bothered by their symptoms should schedule an appointment with their physician. The same is true for anyone whose belly pain or nausea does not improve over time. Symptoms that may indicate a more serious problem include unexplained weight loss, black or bloody stool, persistent vomiting or a prolonged inability to tolerate anything by mouth [5]. While these are not proof of serious illness, they are concerning enough to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask to Determine Acute Gastritis

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask about the following symptoms and risk factors.

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Are you sick enough to consider going to the emergency room right now?
  • Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Is your abdominal pain getting better or worse?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

Acute Gastritis Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out if your symptoms point to acute gastritis

References

  1. Gastritis. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Updated December 3, 2018. MedlinePlus Link
  2. Gastritis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Published July 2015. NIDDK Link
  3. Gut feelings about gastritis. NIH News in Health. Published November 2012. News in Health Link
  4. Fashner J, Gitu AC. Diagnosis and treatment of peptic ulcer disease and H. Pylori infection. Am Fam Physician. 2015;91(4):236-242. AAFP Link
  5. Gastritis. Cedars-Sinai Health Library. Cedars-Sinai Link
  6. Helicobacter pylori. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated July 1998. CDC Link
  7. Leja M, Axon A, Brenner H. Epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori infection. Helicobacter. 2016;21 Suppl 1:3-7. PubMed Link
  8. Xie Y, Bowe B, Li T, Xian H, Yan Y, Al-aly Z. Risk of death among users of Proton Pump Inhibitors: A longitudinal observational cohort study of United States veterans. BMJ Open. 2017;7(6):e015735. PubMed Link
  9. Nobel Prize for H. pylori discovery. Canadian Society of Intestinal Research: GI Society. Published December 2005. GI Society Link