Understanding Acute Gastritis

Understanding Acute Gastritis

Let’s define acute gastritis

Whenever you see or hear the word ‘acute’, what should come to mind is the word ‘sudden.’ And when you read or hear the word ‘gastric’, what should come to mind is the stomach. When ‘itis’ is added at the last part of a word, it means there is an inflammation. From the breakdown, I guess you can tell me what acute gastritis means. Do you want to give it a try? Alright, let’s do it together.
Acute gastritis refers to the state of the stomach characterized by temporary inflammation. It occurs suddenly. But does anything actually happen suddenly? Or it is rather an outcome of an accumulated effect? I leave you to think about that.
But when the stomach gets inflamed gradually and takes a very long time to be treated, it is referred to as chronic gastritis. Its own pain comes in a dull manner and could be quite consistent.
Well, acute gastritis has the ability to cause you nagging and severe pain that comes in short bursts. But the good news is that the pain doesn’t last for long.
Bacteria, injury, viruses, or stress can induce acute gastritis. In fact, it can also be triggered by gastric irritants including steroids, alcohol, NSAIDs, and spicy foods.
You might have come across the word ‘gastroenteritis.’ I don’t want you to get confused. It is different from gastritis. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the intestines and the stomach. To separate the two, diarrhea, is only peculiar to gastroenteritis. But both share nausea and vomiting as common symptoms.
Acute gastritis has a more prevalent occurrence than chronic gastritis in developing countries.

Causes of acute gastritis

Acute gastritis will usually surface when your stomach’s epithelial lining becomes weak or damaged. When this happens, acids in the stomach begin to penetrate the weak tissues. The tissues will start experiencing irritations. The following can damage the stomach’s lining and result in acute gastritis;

  • drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids
  • H. pylori – based infections
  • Chronic alcohol consumption

NSAIDs and corticosteroids, top the list in causing acute gastritis.

  1. H. pylorus is a bacteria that affects the stomach. It is the major cause of peptic ulcers. While it isn’t clear how H. pylori spread, the end result is usually an inflammation of the stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, bloating, and pain in the abdomen.
  • Other causes that are less common include; cocaine use, viral infections, bile reflux, systemic stress, extreme stress, kidney failure, autoimmune disorders, Crohn’s disease, surgery, poison ingestion, etc. patients who are being placed on a breathing machine can also develop acute gastritis.

Risk factors for acute gastritis

Factors that can raise your chances of having acute gastritis are;

  • the use of non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs
  • the use of corticosteroids
  • Unrestrained love for alcoholic drinks and beverages.
  • Undertaking a complex surgery
  • Liver, kidney, and respiratory insufficiency

Symptoms of acute gastritis

Some persons who have acute gastritis present any symptoms. And those that have it present mild or severe symptoms that are related to those of other health challenges. That is why it could be difficult to ascertain without the help of your doctor. Let’s look at some of them.

Kindly visit your doctor should you think you have symptoms of acute for at least a week or even more than especially when you start vomiting blood.
Remember I earlier mentioned that acute gastritis has symptoms similar to other health challenges? Let’s see some of them.

  1. A disease of the gallbladder, especially gallstones.
  2. Peptic Ulcers, accompanied by gastritis
  3. Chronic inflammation of the digestive tracts -Crohn’s disease
  4. food poisoning

Diagnosis of acute gastritis

Some laid down tests have been so far used in the diagnosis of acute gastritis. But what the doctor will usually do before he orders for these tests will be to take your medical history. You will be asked to discuss more your symptoms. He will then go ahead to order these tests;

  • A Complete blood count test where all your blood cells are assessed to find out their health status.
  • A bacterial test of your saliva, blood, or breath. The bacterial looked out for is called Helicobacter pylori.
  • A stool test to find out if it contains blood. It is called a fecal test.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy: you can as well call it endoscopy. With this test, your stomach’s covering can be clearly viewed for any deformities using a medical camera.
  • Biopsy: the tissue of your stomach will be extracted for medical analysis.
  • X-ray: your stomach will be examined for any structural defects with the aid of a machine that uses radiations.

Treatment for acute gastritis

It has been found out that certain acute gastritis cases naturally heal up. It has also been reported that intake of a bland diet may speed up recovery.
Foods low in fiber, fat, and natural acids can be well-tolerated. Lean meats i.e. turkey and chicken can be included as a dietary component if it doesn’t cause an allergy.
Chicken broth soup and indeed some other types are great if vomiting is reoccurring.
Because some cases don’t need treatment doesn’t mean others won’t. For people that need to be treated, their recovery time depends on the severity and cause.
If the cause is H. pylori, the infections might need more than one round of antibiotics. A round can last for 14 days.
And if the cause is virus-related, medications, whether prescription or OTC, will have to be given to alleviate the symptoms. It is likely that more than one drug will be given. Some of them include;


Very common ones are TUMS, Pepto-Bismol, and milk of magnesia. Antacids are used to render the effects of acids harmless in the stomach. This is called neutralization. The frequency of dosage is once in 30 minutes. It is useful so long as you experience gastritis.

H2 antagonists

These are drugs that help in preventing gastric acid production. Examples are famotidine (Pepcid) and cimetidine (aka Tagamet). Its frequency of use is 10 minutes to an hour before mealtime.

Proton pump inhibitors

What these drugs do is to inhibit acid production by acting on the pump responsible for pumping hydrogen into the gastric cells. Common examples are omeprazole (Prilosec) and esomeprazole (aka Nexium). Their frequency of use is once a day for 14 days.
Some of the common ones are tetracycline, amoxicillin, tetracycline, and clarithromycin. Tetracycline is not usually used for children under age 12. It is often common for an antibiotic to be used together with an antacid, a proton pump inhibitor, or an H2 antagonist. The treatment regimen lasts from 10 days to 4 weeks.
If you have been taking either corticosteroids or NSAIDS, you will have to discontinue them. This is because these drugs can induce gastritis and therefore worsen the symptoms.
But it is usually advisable to first see your doctor about this before you discontinue taking them. 

Home care

Making certain adjustments to your lifestyle can help your symptoms to reduce. Let’s take a look at some crucial ones.

  • Gastritis can be induced by chronic alcohol use. Its use can even worsen your symptoms. You will, therefore, be wise to start limiting or completely avoiding alcohol intake.
  • Reduction or completely avoiding the use of spices in your food. Also, avoid taking acidic or fried foods.
  • Eat your meals frequently and in bits.
  • Reduce the rate at which you subject yourself to stressful physical activities.
  • Drugs that have the potential to irritate the stomach are a no-no. Examples of such drugs are NSAIDs.

Alternative treatments

A study published in the journal The Original Internist found that some herbs have the ability to improve the health of the digestive tract by placing a check on Helicobacter pylori.
Common herbs used for the treatment of acute gastritis include:

  • slippery helm
  • oregon grape
  • wild indigo
  • myrrh
  • licorice
  • berberine
  • clove

You might want to check any of these herbs out. Just go ahead and consult your physician. He will tell you useful information about their dosage, likely interactions with other drugs and supplements. Let him know if you are already are on a supplement.


The prognosis is highly dependent on the causative factors. Most acute gastritis cases often resolve promptly to treatment. But this also will depend on its cause. For instance, H. pylori-related infections will be treated with 1 – 2 rounds of antibiotics. Viral infections, on the other hand, can take up to 2 weeks to fight.
When the condition fails to respond to treatment, it can graduate into long-term (chronic) gastritis and this can increase your chances of having gastric cancer.

Prevention of acute gastritis

There is always a way to prevent almost all health conditions. You just need access to accurate information at the right time. So is it with acute gastritis. You may do the following to prevent having it.

  • Develop the habit of always washing your hands before every meal. A bar of mild soap with water will do this. Doing this can lessen your chances of getting infected with Helicobacter pylori.
  • Have the habit of cooking all your foods well. Make sure they are done especially meats. It can go a long way in helping reduces your risk of having a gastric infection.
  • Put limits on your knack for alcoholic drinks and beverages.
  • Stop using NSAIDs unnecessarily and if you must, take them with water and food. This will help you to avoid manifesting gastritis symptoms.

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