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Gastritis: Description

Gastritis can be either acute or chronic, however the acute can devolve into chronic forms. Acute gastritis is usually triggered by external factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, drugs). Chronic gastritis can be divided into the forms A, B and C. Type A gastritis (autoimmune gastritis) is an autoimmune disease that cannot be completely cured. Bacterial gastritis (Type B) is the most common form (about 85%) which is often caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Type C gastritis is induced via chemical factors (e.g. drugs, bile acid).

Older people are often affected by the disease, but people who are exposed to excessive physical and mental stress can also struggle with gastritis.

Gastritis: Symptoms

Common symptoms of acute gastritis are sudden stomach ache, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, a feeling of pressure in the stomach area, abdominal pain (upper abdomen) or nausea. Other symptoms may include frequent belching, loss of appetite or vomiting. These abruptly appearing signs allow the disease to be detected in good time. With chronic gastritis the situation is different: it has few specific symptoms and is often initially not recognized. The chronic form of the disease can lead to bloating or diarrhea, and often those affected complain as well about loss of appetite or a feeling of abdominal fullness.

Gastritis: Causes and Risks

The lining that protects the stomach from corrosive stomach acid may become inflamed due to damage or an overproduction of acid, which is the ultimate cause of gastritis. In particular the development of chronic Type C, so-called chemical-toxic gastritis, is provoked by stomach-irritating substances including analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics. Other risk factors include excessive alcohol and nicotine consumption or food poisoning.

Gastritis: Examination and Diagnosis

In a medical history interview the attending doctor first collects information on the existing complaints, symptoms and previous illnesses of the patient, his diet and any medication taken. If necessary an ultrasonography of the upper abdominal area can be arranged in order to exclude other causes of the symptoms (e.g. gallstones). A reliable diagnosis of gastritis can happen only via a gastroscopy.


To detect a Helicobacter infection there are several diagnostic options, including a stool sample or a Helicobacter breath test. If a gastroscopy was already performed on a tissue sample, a quick test can be carried out in which the bacterium is microscopically detectable.

Gastritis: Treatment

Particularly important in the treatment of Type A gastritis is that this disease often leads to a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause anemia and nervous disorders. In addition, regular endoscopic controls are required, since the risk of stomach cancer is increased.

The bacterially-induced form Type B requires, depending on the individual risk profile, so-called eradication therapy in which Helicobacter pylori should be eliminated by a combination of no less than 3 drugs (antacids and antibiotics taken over at least 7 days).

With Type C gastritis the person affected must largely abandon the ingestion of the drugs and substances causing the disease. In addition, antacids can be taken for relief of symptoms.

Gastritis: Course and Prognosis

Whereas Type A gastritis as an autoimmune disease cannot be completely cured, the chances of recovery with Types B and C are very good. Effective preventive measures include waiving greasy and very spicy food, the frequent use of medicines, and excessive coffee, alcohol or nicotine consumption. With this disease, targeted therapies and a mild stomach-protecting diet are extremely important.