What are the Symptoms, Causes and Treatments for Acute Gastritis?
Acute Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining, which is usually a result of taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen, having an infection like H.Pylori or drinking too much alcohol. It can be very painful, but it does not tend to continue for a long period of time.
What’s the difference between Acute and Chronic Gastritis?
Acute gastritis tends to come on suddenly with more sharp pain, chronic gastritis symptoms appear more slowly and if pain experienced it tends to be duller but longer lasting
Symptoms of Acute Gastritis
- Upper abdominal pain
- Stomach discomfort
- Feeling full
Causes of Acute Gastritis
Medication – Certain medication such as NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen etc) can cause irritation to the stomach lining.
Alcohol – Having too much alcohol on a regular basis can irritate your stomach, as well as causing possible damage to your organs.
H.pylori – Helicobacter H.Pylori infection – about 40% of the UK population have this bacteria in their stomach, many with no symptoms, but for many, it will go on to cause gastritis or ulcers. It is thought to be spread by bodily fluids, water, and food.
Stress – Facing stressful situations, be it at work or in your personal life can have a big effect on your stomach. Gastritis feeds off stress, so it’s important to find ways to de-stress and keep calm.
Stomach upset – Sometimes a bout of food poisoning or stomach bug/flu may cause your stomach to become irritated. Eating a bland diet for a few days will help settle things down.
Less common causes
- Cocaine use
- Bile reflux
- Auto immune disease
- Crohns disease
How is Acute Gastritis diagnosed
Medical evaluation – GP will assess your symptoms, lifestyle and medications used.
Blood test – A blood test may also be used to test for H.Pylori
Breath test – This test will test for H.Pylori. You will be asked to swallow a liquid or capsule and then will need to blow into a bag. The breath test will show an increase in carbon dioxide.
Treatment of Acute Gastritis
Removing the irritant – The first thing your GP may advise, is to remove the cause of your Gastritis. It might be a certain medication or maybe you are drinking too much alcohol.
Some people are giving a course of painkillers for example which may irritate the stomach. If you need to take certain medications for another condition speak to your doctor as there are usually alternatives that can be used. Or tablets that can be taken to protect the stomach lining.
Antacids – These are often the first thing your GP will suggest taking to settle things down. These are a mild form of medication that comes in tablets or liquid form and will work by neutralising the acid in your stomach, giving your stomach time to calm down and heal. This group of medication includes such things as Gaviscon, Rennies and tums.
PPIs (Proton pump inhibitors) – These are powerful and are often prescribed by doctors to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, or to treat ulcers. There are various types that can be prescribed. If one doesn’t suit you and you are having side effects, then your doctor can swap you to another one. Some common types are Lansoprazole, Omeprazole and Nexium.
H2 antagonists – These work in a similar way to PPIs and work by reducing the acid in your stomach. Cimetidine and nizatidine are often prescribed. Ranitidine (zantac) was very popular but was recalled due to it containing carcinogenic properties.
Antibiotics – these will generally be given If your Gastritis is caused by H-Pylori. The course will often last for 2 weeks, but it maybe longer if the infection is not fully cleared with the first course.
When you should see a doctor
There are certain warning signs that should never be ignored. Some conditions and illnesses can have similar symptoms to Gastritis, so you should never put off seeking help if you are concerned about something.
- Blood in your poo (stool)
- Blood in your vomit
- Weight loss that is unexplained
- Extreme tiredness (it could be anaemia)
Natural ways to treat Acute Gastritis
Chicken bone broth – When I have a mild Gastritis flare up I will often make a batch of bone broth. I tend to sip it throughout the day, and it has amazing calming properties. It contains Collagen and gelatine which are released from the bones as you cook them. These contain anti-inflammatory properties. Here is my step-by-step guide to making it – Chicken bone broth
Slippery elm powder – This is definitely one of my main go-to supplements. I always keep a pouch of it in the cupboard and if my stomach feels a little off I will mix myself a small cup of the powder with water. Its coats the stomach lining and is very soothing. This is my absolute favourite – Indigo herbs Slippery elm powder
Celery juice – I have been amazed at how much celery juice has helped my stomach. Sometimes just having it for a couple of days will be enough to reset my stomach and improve my digestion. For details on making Celery juice and my experience with it, see this post – Celery juice benefits
Ginger – Ginger is fantastic for nausea and has proven anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. If I have any sign of nausea I will make myself a hot cup of ginger tea, sometimes with camomile. It really stops me from feeling sick, plus its classed as an anti-inflammatory, so will help calm your stomach down.
Camomile tea – Camomile is well known for its calming properties. It contains chemical compounds that may reduce inflammation. I used to drink coffee or black tea with milk until I got gastritis and then that all had to change, as I could no longer tolerate them. It takes a bit of getting used to but I love Camomile tea now, especially with a slice of ginger in it.