Types of Chronic Gastritis: How it can be treated

Health & Fitnessby Ariana Smith25 December 2018

Chronic Gastritis

The stomach releases enzymes and other compounds to aid in digestion. These enzymes require specific pH levels to function at an optimum level. The stomach lining produces acid to aid the breakdown of food and to protect the digestive system from infection. Chronic gastritis occurs when the stomach lining becomes inflamed over a long period of time. This can be caused by bacterial infection from food, having too much alcohol, or chronic stress. Over time, the cells that make up the stomach lining becomes a precancerous lesion. This may lead to cancer if untreated. Chronic gastritis can be cured with prompt treatment and monitoring.

Types of Chronic Gastritis:

There are a few types of chronic gastritis; Type A, Type B, and Type C. Type A is caused by a defect in the immune system destroying the stomach cells. This, in turn, increases the risk of the patient developing anemia, vitamin deficiencies, and cancer. Type B is the most common type of chronic gastritis which is caused by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterial infection. This infection causes stomach ulcers, intestinal ulcers, and cancer. Type C is caused by chemical irritants like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alcohol or bile. This causes erosion of the stomach lining and bleeding. You can always refer to several causes of Chronic Gastritis online and get better insights into it.

This condition may bring about an array of complications in due course. Chronic gastritis may complicate to atrophic gastritis or erosive gastritis. Atrophic gastritis is the loss of the stomach lining and glands due to prolonged inflammation. Atrophic gastritis, in turn, causes vitamin B12 deficiency and consecutively, pernicious anemia, a type of anemia that is due to a B12 deficiency. Erosive gastritis causes chronic bleeding internally and would eventually cause anemia. Patients may also develop painful peptic ulcers. These are ulcers that occur in the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. As explained earlier, chronic gastritis has the potential to cause benign and malignant growths in the stomach. Based on a study done, Helicobacter pylori-associated chronic gastritis (Type B) was the precursor disease in 75% of patients with stomach cancer.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Doctors may order a few tests, in addition to taking the history of your illness and doing a thorough physical examination. These are important for your doctor to determine the type of gastritis you may have, rule out other conditions that mimic chronic gastritis and to ascertain if any complications have occurred. A full blood count is done to rule out anemia and ongoing infection. Doctors may also convince you to go for an endoscopy, which involves a tube equipped with a camera going down your food pipe. This is done to get a real-time view of the stomach and test for the presence of bacteria on the stomach lining. Chronic gastritis may also cause bleeding in the stomach. Most of the time, these bleeding is not visible to the naked eyes. Testing the stool for occult bleeding is vital to establish any active bleeding going on within the stomach.

Fortunately, chronic gastritis is a highly treatable condition. Medications, diet and avoiding the causative factors are the mainstay of treatment for this condition. For patients suffering from Type A gastritis, treatment is mainly focussed on supplementing the patient with the nutrients that are lacking due to gastritis. Since Type A gastritis is caused by an autoimmune dysfunction, there is nothing much that can be done to treat the causative factor. In type B gastritis, however, intensive antibiotic therapy and antacids can be used to eradicate the bacterial infection that is causing gastritis. Treating Type C gastritis involves avoidance of the use of NSAIDs and staying away from alcohol to avoid further damage to the stomach lining.

Medications to reduce acid in the stomach are vital in the management of chronic gastritis. These medications that are used are either to protect the stomach lining from the excessive acidity or to control the amount of acid that is being produced, namely antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and H2 antagonists. Antacids include calcium carbonate, aluminum, and magnesium. These medications usually provide temporary relief and if taken several times a day on a regular basis, may cause an acid rebound phenomenon. This is when the stomach amplifies the production of acid in a response to the cessation of the medication. H2 antagonists (ranitidine, famotidine) provide patients with long-lasting relief but not immediately. This medication directly affects the cells that are producing the acid. Effects can usually be felt after one hour from taking the medication and lasts for up to 4 to 13 hours. Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) such as omeprazole are a class of medication that inhibits the enzyme system that produces the acid. This medication is a potent drug that is very commonly used for patients with chronic gastritis. Symptoms of gastritis may go away after a few hours with medication but the lesion in the stomach may take up to months or years to heal completely.

To alleviate symptoms and to achieve faster remission, patients are advised to modify their diet and certain lifestyle habits. Patients should avoid a high-salt, high-fat diet, alcohol (beer, wine, spirits) and a diet rich in red and preserved meats. It is recommended to eat more fruits and vegetables, food with high content of probiotics (yogurt, tempeh), lean meat, plant proteins (soy, tofu), and whole grain food (pasta, oats, rice, bread). Patients should also attempt to reduce stress levels in their daily life and ensure they take proper meals at appropriate timings. The prognosis of patients with gastritis depends on the patient’s response to treatment and their compliance with the course of treatment. It is important for patients who suffer from symptoms to get a work-up done by a doctor. Therapy should be initiated as soon as possible to avoid sinister complications that may occur when chronic gastritis is left untreated or inadequately treated.

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Ariana Smith

Ariana Smith is a freelancer content writer and enthusiastic blogger. She is a regular contributor at The Daily Notes.

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