The body responds to inflammation by distorting the balance of the internal environment and resists outside attack. Inflammation may arise from a variety causes. Inflammation of the stomach, in medical terminology Gastritis, is a common disease affecting some adolescents but mostly adults. It is one of the most widespread diseases of the digestive tract. Depending on the duration, the causes and the changes in tissue we distinguish between acute and chronic inflammation of the stomach.
Acute gastritis is a short-term issue. It develops suddenly and the difficulties persist for a period of 1-2 days. The body is capable of dealing with this type of inflammation on its own and quickly repairs the damaged tissue. Both external and internal factors influence participate on the acute gastritis. External factors include the consumption of spicy food, fatty food, alcohol, the post-operative conditions or injury, and also the use of some medication. A typical drug that is capable of causing acute gastritis is Aspirin, which contains a high relative quantity of acetylsalicylic acid. The internal factors include stress, states of shock or poor circulation. The main symptoms include a loss of appetite, a diarrhea, a burning sensation in the stomach rising upward, fever and fatigue. After two or three days, the disease subsides. Attention should be given to whether the stool contains blood. In this case, there is probably bleeding into the gastrointestinal tract and immediate action is necessary. Diarrhea is particularly risky in infants, because it can cause dehydration by excessive fluid loss.
Chronic gastritis occurs slowly and is a long-term issue. There are often no symptoms during its gestation. Chronic gastritis according to its causes can be divided into several types.
Types of chronic gastritis
Chronic gastritis is a disease that develops over an extended period of time and may not have any initial symptoms. Chronic gastritis of the stomach can be divided into several groups according to its causes.
- B-gastritis is the most common type of chronic inflammation of the stomach and is caused by the colonization of gastric mucosa by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. B-gastritis, which means bacterial one is caused by bacteria able to survive in the acidic environment of the stomach. The bacteria itself is able to produce substances that are toxic to the body and disrupt the integrity of the gastric wall. It is reported that Helicobacter pylori is the cause of around 80-90% of all gastric inflammations, and almost everyone plays host to this bacteria. However, the disease does not occur in everyone. Why this is so, is not yet known, but there is speculation on the body's potential genetic ability to resist infection.
- C-gastritis, a chemical gastritis is induced by various irritants that are ingested into the stomach. These substances can be found in a variety of drugs, such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen or drugs to treat cancer. In cases of a faulty or damaged sphincter between the stomach and the duodenum, the contents of the small intestine can return to the stomach. This substance contains bile, intestinal juices and other chemicals that irritate the stomach wall.
A-gastritis is an autoimmune inflammation of the stomach and is the least common form of chronic gastritis. It is characterized by the development of antibodies against the stomach's own cells. This means that the white blood cells mistakenly think that the gastric cells are hostile and destroy them. Destruction of the parietal cell results in the decreased production of hydrochloric acid and the so-called intrinsic factor. The intrinsic factor is essential for the proper absorption of vitamin B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency leads to anemia.
Symptoms of chronic gastritis
Manifestations of chronic gastritis may not be expressed at all. In this case this designated as asymptomatic chronic gastritis. In cases where symptoms are expressed, burning pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea occur. An indisputable sign of chronic gastritis and pernicious anemia is a lack of the vitamin B12. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disorder where the gastric mucosa is weakened, this leads failure of the intrinsic factor and an increase of the production of stomach acid, which reduces the absorption of the vitamin B12.
The diagnosis of chronic gastritis
The diagnosis of chronic gastritis is only possible by duel histological inspection. It is based on an examination of the stomach cells during endoscopy. Endoscopy is an examination during which a tube like instrument which has a camera mounted on it is inserted through the mouth. The camera enables the doctor to assess the condition of the mucosa visually. In cases of chronic gastritis, the physician will find swelling or a redness of the mucosa. This, however, for the diagnosis of chronic gastritis is not sufficient. As already mentioned, it is necessary to take 2 samples for histological examination. It is also necessary to confirm the presence of Helicobacter pylori.
Treatment of stomach inflammation
In cases of acute gastritis treatment is usually unnecessary. The body is able of dealing with short-term inflammation itself. Diet, bed rest and avoidance of substances causing the condition are recommended. Treatment of chronic stomach inflammation lies in the use of certain medications. The prescription of antacids, i.e. drugs reducing stomach acid, as well as H2 antagonists or proton pump inhibitors, which are drugs that can reduce hydrochloric acid in the stomach is common. These reduce the irritation of the stomach lining. If the chronic gastritis is caused by Helicobacter pylori, the triple-drug therapy is applied. This contains of two types of antibiotics and one proton pump inhibitor such as Helicid.
The risks and complications of stomach inflammation
The risk of developing a disease is significantly increased by the effects of smoking and consumption of alcohol, spicy foods, living under preassure and stress combined with irregular eating and diet rich in animal fats. This results in inflammation of the gastric mucosa, which is not only painful, but also inhibits the production of hydrochloric acid which is crucial for digestion. Additionally, there is a reduction in the productivity of the so-called intrinsic factor, a substance capable of absorbing vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the proper formation of red blood cells. In its absence, therefore, we come across one type of anemia: pernicious anemia, which manifests itself as by shortness of breath, fatigue and a paleness of the skin. Untreated chronic gastritis can lead to gastric ulcers, this occurs when hydrochloric acid penetrates through the protective layer of mucus lining suffering inflammation, and penetrates the stomach wall. The biggest complication is then the transition of chronic gastritis to gastric cancer, a malignant cancer requiring surgery and the use of chemotherapy.