Gastritis occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed or swollen.
Gastritis can last for only a short time (acute gastritis), or linger for months to years (chronic gastritis).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The most common causes of gastritis are:
- Certain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, when taken over a longer period of time
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Infection of the stomach with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori
Less common causes are:
- Autoimmune disorders (such as pernicious anemia)
- Backflow of bile into the stomach (bile reflux)
- Cocaine abuse
- Eating or drinking caustic or corrosive substances (such as poisons)
- Extreme stress
- Viral infection, such as cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus, especially in people with a weak immune system
Trauma or a severe, sudden illness such as major surgery, kidney failure, or being placed on a breathing machine may cause gastritis.
Many people with gastritis do not have any symptoms.
Symptoms you may notice are:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the upper part of the belly or abdomen
If gastritis is causing bleeding from the lining of the stomach, symptoms may include:
- Black stools
- Vomiting blood or coffee-ground like material
Signs and tests
Tests that may be needed are:
Treatment depends on the specific cause. Some of the causes will disappear over time.
You may need to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or other medicines that may be causing gastritis, but only after you talk with your health care provider.
You may use other over-the-counter and prescription drugs that decrease the amount of acid in the stomach, such as:
- H2 antagonists: famotidine (Pepsid), cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and nizatidine (Axid)
- Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) -- omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), iansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (AcipHex), and pantoprazole (Protonix)
Antacids may be used to treat chronic gastritis caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
The outlook depends on the cause, but is usually good.
Blood loss and increased risk of gastric cancer are possible complications.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop:
- Pain in the upper part of the belly or abdomen that does not go away
- Black or tarry stools
- Vomiting blood or coffee-ground-like material
Avoid long-term use of irritants (such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or alcohol).
Kuipers, E. Acid peptic disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 141.
Lee EL, Feldman M. Gastritis and gastropathies. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 51.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
5 Hangover Myths Debunked
Alcohol Abuse and Eating Disorders: Is There a Link?
The Latest Advances in Prostheses
How to Treat 5 Different Types of Migraines
What Smoking Does to Your Brain
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.