The Biggest Questions you want Answered about Gastritis
Maybe you have Gastritis for the first time, or you have had it for years and are struggling to heal. We have the answers to your BIG questions.
Why did I get Gastritis?
There are lots of reasons people get Gastritis, but much of the time it won’t just be one thing, it will be a combination of reasons. but the main causes of Gastritis are usually caused by one the following
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection – about 40% of the UK population have this bacteria in their stomach, many with no symptoms, but for some, it will go on to cause gastritis or ulcers.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Taking NSAIDS – such as Aspirin and Nurofen
- Stress and Anxiety
Is it possible to cure Gastritis?
There is no miraculous tablet that you can take that will get rid of it forever, although Doctors may let you think this is what PPI’s can do.
But by following a healthy gastritis diet, taking medication prescribed for you and making changes to your lifestyle it is possible to heal your stomach.
I am now 90% healed, I can eat what I like in moderation, but I am aware that if I push my body too far, by eating and drinking things I shouldn’t, then I could be back to square one.
I found the Gastritis healing book invaluable, it has diet plans, list of foods you should and shouldn’t eat and just lots of brilliant advice and tips.
Should I take PPI’s for my gastritis?
If your GP has prescribed you PPI’s, you should think very carefully before deciding not to take them. Many conditions like ulcers will need medication in order to give the stomach time to heal.
But there has been studies recently that have shown that there are risks with long term use of PPIs, some experts believe that long term use may be linked to dementia, heart problems and bone fractures.
These are powerful drugs and so if you have been on them for a while and you are feeling better, then maybe it’s time to stop taking them (make sure you GP give you the go ahead).
I don’t feel that my long-term symptoms improved until I stopped taking PPI’s.
If you do decide to stop taking them though, make sure you do this slowly, or you may get acid rebound. Wean off them gradually, dropping the dose slightly each week. I have detailed how I did this here
Can I drink alcohol with Gastritis?
The easy answer to this is if you are serious about healing from Gastritis then avoid alcohol for at least a few months, longer if you can. Then once you are healed you can have the occasional drink again.
But bear in mind that many peoples Gastritis is caused by heavy drinking, so drinking in moderation is really key.
Saying that if you really want a drink and a soft drink is just not going to cut it, there are some alcoholic drinks which are better than others.
Gin, Vodka and tequila tend to be the cleanest alcohols and are the less acidic on the stomach.
Whereas drinks such as Beer and Wine should be avoided. Beer is not only acidic it is also carbonated which is bad news for Gastritis.
For more alcohol and gastritis advice, see this page, Missing alcohol, what can I drink with Gastritis?
What is the difference between acute and chronic gastritis?
Gastritis affects lots of people and for many, it comes on quickly and with treatment (or sometimes without) it will calm down just as quickly, this is called acute gastritis.
One of the main causes of this type of Gastritis is the use of NSAIDs and corticosteroids.
Sometimes medication won’t be needed and by eating a plain diet for a short while and avoiding NSAIDS, Alcohol etc the Gastritis will improve and no longer be a problem.
This type of Gastritis appears slowly over a longer amount of time and is harder to heal. Treatment is likely to be needed to help heal your stomach and long-term monitoring may be useful to decrease the chances of it returning. Diet changes may also be necessary for long term health.
What food and drink should I avoid if I have Gastritis?
Diet is extremely important if you suffer with gastritis. Looking at what you eat and drink can make all the difference if you want to heal your stomach.
Everyone has their own food and drink triggers that will instantly give them issues and cause a flare-up, for others the exact same food will be something they eat all the time with no problem.
So, it’s important to make a diary of what you eat and anytime you notice an undesirable symptom make a note. Overtime you will hopefully see a pattern of certain foods that need avoiding.
Saying that there are some food and drinks that seem to be an issue for a majority of Gastritis sufferers and are best avoided whilst trying to heal.
- Spicy food
- Fatty and processed foods
- Citrus foods and juices
- Dairy foods – such as milk and cheese
Can Stress cause Gastritis?
Yes, Stress and anxiety are thought to be one of the main causes of gastritis.
When we become stressed our body releases chemicals and hormones, these find their way into our digestive system. This can interfere with our stomach bacteria, when this happens it can have a knock-on affect to the bodies chemical balance and cause all sorts of digestive issues.
Avoiding stress in your everyday life is never easy but it’s important to find ways to keep it under control.
Ways to destress
Yoga and meditation – Join a class or find an online course, there are some great ones on You tube. I particularly like Yoga with Adriene https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
Walking – It doesn’t have to be a long way, just a walk around your block for 20 minutes in the fresh air will do you so much good
Exercise – This doesn’t have to be the gym, you can do a home workout, walk the dog, running up and down the stairs. Anything that gets you moving.
Doing something that makes you happy – reading, crochet, playing with your dog, painting.
For more ideas on dealing with stress, see this post – Is stress causing your Gastritis? 10 tips for a relaxed gut
I need to have an endoscopy, what’s it like?
An endoscopy is a procedure that your GP may send you to have done to check what’s going on in your stomach. This will be done with a long thin tube, that is put down your throat, it has a camera on the end so your stomach can then be seen on a TV screen and pictures can be taken.
People often worry about this procedure but the thought of it is generally much worse than the reality.
Most people will stay awake during the procedure and you will have your throat sprayed with a local anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any discomfort.
You will probably be offered a sedative, so you won’t be so aware of what’s going on.
Some people opt not to have the sedative, as then you will be more alert afterwards. For example, you may need to drive yourself home afterwards, which you can’t do if you have had the sedative.
I was very anxious about having the procedure, but it really was absolutely fine.
I opted to have the sedative as my husband came with me, so I didn’t need to drive. I had a brief chat with the doctor before I went in, so he could find out what issues I was having and then I was taken in. I was given the sedative and told to lay there and relax.
I was aware of them inserting the tube, but it was fine. Before I could give it much thought, they told me it was all over, and they were wheeling me back out to the recovery room. After about 15 minutes and a cup of tea, I was on my way home.
Even if you are nervous about it, don’t let this put you off having it done, especially if you have been having issues for a while. For me it was a relief to actually have some insight to what was happening in my stomach.