Gastritis - Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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Gastritis - Medical Malpractice

Gastritis involves stomach inflammation from various sources. It can be an acute condition and can last a few hours or days or it can be a chronic condition, lasting for months or years. Gastritis can be associated with Helicobacter pylori infections, common infections of the GI tract. Long term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication can contribute to chronic gastritis. The use of alcohol can cause gastritis of longstanding duration.

Common symptoms seen in gastritis include a gnawing or burning pain in the epigastrium or left upper quadrant of the stomach. You can lose your appetite or have belching, vomiting, nausea and bloating of the stomach. You often feel full after even a small amount of eating and you commonly lose weight because of discomfort of the abdomen and loss of appetite.

As mentioned, you can have acute or chronic gastritis. If you have acute gastritis, you often have nausea, vomiting and burning in the abdomen. Chronic gastritis generally comes on slowly and you feel a dull discomfort in the abdomen associated with belching and bloating. In some individuals, the symptoms may be nonexistent but will show up on biopsy. Bleeding can occur from gastritis but this isn't common and usually isn't severe bleeding. It is also possible to have black stools or blood in the stools if the bleeding becomes severe and passes through the gastrointestinal tract.

The cause of gastritis is the damage to the protective lining of the stomach. The acid within the stomach then gets into the underlying tissue of the stomach and irritates it. Causes include H. pylori infections, which can be tested for by a blood test for H. pylori antibodies. If the infection is treated, the gastritis usually goes away. Other causes of gastritis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, which can wear away at the lining of the stomach. These include medications like ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen, also called Aleve. If you take these medications on an empty stomach, you have an increased risk of getting gastritis. Too many anti-inflammatory medications taken over a short period of time means you can really get inflammation and gastritis quite readily.

Alcohol use can contribute to erosion of the stomach lining and gastritis. Alcohol makes the gastric acid penetrate the lining of the stomach much more easily so you get inflammation of the affected area. Stress, such as traumatic or surgical stress, can contribute to getting gastritis. Even emotional stress can cause you to get chronic gastritis.

Bile can reflux up into the stomach from the duodenum and can cause gastritis by irritating the lining of the stomach. Bile usually doesn't travel upwards but if the pyloric sphincter isn't strong, bile can travel upwards and lead to irritation.

Autoimmune gastritis is a condition where the body attacks its own lining. This can be caused by Crohn's disease, Hashimoto's disease or type I diabetes. Certain medical conditions, such as HIV disease, parasites, and some other connective diseases can result in chronic or acute gastritis. Older people get gastritis because they are more likely to be positive for Helicobacter pylori.

Doctors can check for gastritis by doing antibody testing for H. pylori and by doing an upper GI endoscopy to biopsy the stomach lining and do cultures for H. pylori infection. Upper GI imaging can be done with x-ray and dye but these tend not to show the more mild cases. When you have an upper GI endoscopy, the doctor sedates you and then uses a tube with a camera that examines the esophagus and stomach, taking biopsies if suspicious areas exist.

The treatment of gastritis involves treating any H. pylori infection and stopping alcohol use and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. You can take H2 blockers such as Axid, Zantac or Tagamet. Stronger medications in the form of acid pump inhibitors like Prilosec can be used to heal the stomach lining as the cause of the disease is being handled. Some people will need to be on chronic anti-acid therapy for the rest of their lives.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here