The stomach has three main functions: storing food and liquids, producing digestive juices, and sending food to the small intestine, but stomach conditions can disrupt its functioning. Stomach-related disorders, including gastritis, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), peptic ulcer, viral gastroenteritis, hiatal hernia, gastroparesis, and stomach cancer, can cause severe pain and extreme discomfort, and they require immediate medical attention.
Types of gastritis – A common stomach condition
Gastritis is one of the most common stomach conditions and affects 25-35% of the country’s population. It has two primary stages: acute and chronic. The former is characterized by sudden swelling or inflammation in the stomach lining and can be caused by injury, a viral or bacterial infection, stress, and ingestion of irritants like alcohol, steroids, NSAIDs, or spicy food. It leads to the development of symptoms like a loss of appetite, black stools, indigestion, nausea, bloody vomiting, and abdominal pain.
On the other hand, chronic gastritis develops over time and is generally caused by bacteria, alcoholism, certain medications, stress, or immune system disorders. This condition inflames the stomach lining and destroys some of the protective cells in the lining. Chronic gastritis can last for several years and slowly weakens the stomach lining. It can also lead to other diseases like dysplasia or metaplasia, and its symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen, indigestion, bloating, nausea, vomiting, belching, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Chronic gastritis can be categorized into three types: type A is caused by an immune system disorder, type B is caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, and type C is a result of irritants like bile, alcohol, and NSAIDs.
Diagnosis of gastritis
Doctors examine a patient’s medical history and symptoms before prescribing patients to undergo certain medical tests to diagnose gastritis. Here are some common tests prescribed for the diagnosis of this common stomach condition:
- Tests for H. pylori: Bacterium H. pylori tests are done to determine its effects, and this can be tested from the blood, stool, or breath.
- Endoscopy: A lens attached to a flexible tube is inserted through the patient’s mouth to check for inflammation in the esophagus, small intestine, and stomach. If the doctor finds any issue, a biopsy is conducted for testing.
- X-ray: A series of X-rays of the esophagus, small intestine, and stomach help doctors check for signs of abnormalities that can indicate gastritis.
Stomach conditions like gastritis can be prevented by making certain lifestyle changes. One must avoid smoking and alcohol consumption to lower their risk of developing gastritis. Also, certain foods can cause stomach irritations and lead to gastritis, so it is advisable to limit the consumption of fatty or spicy food, along with citrus fruits and foods with acidic content. Apart from that, if one experiences an upset stomach after taking certain medications like NSAIDs, they must consult a doctor for alternative prescriptions.
An individual should visit a doctor at the earliest if they notice any symptoms. Early diagnosis and timely treatment are extremely important to manage this stomach condition and prevent any complications.