Patient Education Patient Information


Patient Education


What is Gastritis?

Gastritis is when the stomach’s protective mucous lining is damaged and becomes inflamed. The lining, called the mucosa, normally keeps stomach acid from irritating your stomach. Gastritis can cause uncomfortable symptoms and can lead to other health problems like anemia or ulcers.

Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio - Gastritis

Definitions of Gastritis

Acute – A sudden onset of symptoms that last for a short time.
Chronic – A gradual onset of long-term symptoms. Chronic gastritis can last for years and put you at risk of serious complications like stomach cancers.
Erosive (reactive) – When gastritis causes inflammation and wears away the stomach lining, it’s called erosive or reactive gastritis.
Non-erosive – Inflammation without erosion of the stomach lining is non-erosive gastritis.


Gastritis doesn’t always cause symptoms and sometimes it’s mistaken for indigestion. Symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Bloating
  • Full feeling in the upper abdomen, most often after eating
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Stool that looks black and tarry
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds

Causes of Gastritis

Gastritis is a result of a weakened or damaged mucosa. There are many causes, including:

The lining of the stomach thins with age. As people age, circulation, metabolism, and mucosal repair all slow down. This makes older adults more likely to develop gastritis. Older adults are also more likely to have H. pylori or conditions that can lead to gastritis.

Autoimmune disease
Some people develop gastritis when their own immune system attacks the lining of their stomach.

Bile reflux
When bile backs up into your stomach instead of moving out through the small intestine, it can irritate the mucosa.

Cancer treatment
Radiation treatment or chemotherapy drugs can contribute to gastritis.

Excessive alcohol use
Excessive alcohol use can irritate and erode the lining of your stomach.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
A bacteria that can infect your stomach and stay there long-term. Most people with H. pylori were infected in childhood. It can be passed person-to-person or through contaminated water or food. Most people with H. pylori don’t have any signs or symptoms.

Corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can thin and irritate the protective lining of your stomach.

Other conditions
Gastritis may result from other diseases or conditions like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or parasitic infections.

Severe illness or traumatic injury can cause gastritis, even when the injury or illness doesn’t involve the stomach.


Your doctor will discuss your history and symptoms at your appointment, give you a physical exam, and may recommend tests based on your symptoms.

  • H. pylori testH. pylori can be detected using special blood, breath, or stool tests.
  • Upper GI endoscopy – A thin tube with a camera attached (endoscope) is inserted through your mouth and into your stomach to allow your doctor to examine the lining of the stomach and take a sample (biopsy) if needed.
  • Upper GI series – After drinking a special substance (barium), X-rays are taken. The barium coats inside your stomach, making it easier for your doctor to visualize changes.


Treatment depends on the cause of the inflammation. Some treatments kill bacteria. Others reduce symptoms. If medications or alcohol are suspected, stopping them may relieve symptoms. Medical treatments may include:

Antibiotics – If H. pylori cause your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe one or more antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

Acid blocking medications that also promote healing – Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are medications that block acid production and promote healing. Familiar over-the-counter PPIs are omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid).

Acid-reducing medications – Medications that reduce acid production are called histamine (H-2) blockers. They can help relieve the pain and promote healing. Familiar over-the-counter H-2 blockers are famotidine (Pepcid) and cimetidine (Tagamet HB).

Acid-neutralizing medications – Antacids can provide immediate pain relief by neutralizing the acid already in your stomach. They are not typically used as a primary treatment. Familiar over-the-counter antacids are calcium carbonate (Tums, Alka-Seltzer) and magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia).


Untreated gastritis can lead to complications like:

  • Achlorhydria (a condition that stops the stomach from producing hydrochloric acid)
  • Anemia
  • Atrophic gastritis
  • Bleeding in the stomach
  • Cancer
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Perforations in the stomach
  • Peritonitis
  • Precancerous lesions in the stomach
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Preventing Gastritis

It may not be possible to prevent gastritis, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and symptoms:

  1. Avoid acidic, fatty, fried, and spicy foods that can irritate your stomach
  2. Avoid taking NSAIDs if you can
  3. Eat more frequent, small meals instead of three large meals daily
  4. Manage your stress
  5. Practice good hygiene and wash your hands to lower your risk of contracting H. pylori
  6. Reduce or avoid alcohol
  7. Reduce or avoid caffeine
  8. Don’t lie down for at least two to three hours after eating

Gastritis Diet

Certain foods can make bloating, heartburn, indigestion, and stomach pain worse. Avoiding or limiting those foods that irritate your stomach can reduce your symptoms. Each person reacts differently to foods, so it may take you some trial and error to identify the foods that make your symptoms worse.

Foods that are known to worsen gastritis include:

  • Alcohol
  • Any caffeinated drink
  • Black and red pepper, chili powder, mustard seed, nutmeg
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus juices
  • Coffee
  • High-fat, strongly seasoned meats like salami
  • Peppermint, spearmint, green, and black tea
  • Peppers and hot chiles
  • Spicy or strong cheeses
  • Tomato products
  • Whole milk and dairy foods made from whole milk

Is Gastritis Curable?

We are often asked how to cure gastritis permanently. The best chance of curing gastritis is to diagnose and treat the underlying cause. Acute gastritis will usually clear up within a few days, especially if a medication or alcohol caused it. Chronic gastritis typically needs more treatment.

In many cases, lifestyle changes can help. Eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and managing stress can improve your symptoms.

If you’re having gastritis symptoms, your doctor can make a diagnosis and help you find the right treatment plan for your symptoms and lifestyle.

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