Inflammation of the soft mucus lining in the stomach is called gastritis. The soft mucus lining is a protective barrier in the stomach and if it is inflamed it commonly means that it is under attack. This condition may be a form of infection caused by some substances or chemicals you ingest.

What is Gastritis?

This health condition usually happens when your stomach’s protective barrier is inflamed. The protective barrier protects your stomach from microorganisms, acids, and enzymes every day. In most cases, gastritis occurs when your body’s defense (immune system) triggers inflammation that helps to fight against infections.

Gastritis Types

There are several types of this disease. Examples include:

  • Acute Gastritis – This type of gastritis often occurs suddenly and temporarily.
  • Chronic Gastritis – In case you experience a chronic condition for a long time and do not notice it, this condition may be a leading cause of chronic gastritis.
  • Erosive and Non-erosive Gastritis – Erosive gastritis usually occurs due to its cause. For example due to chemicals, acid, bile, alcohol, or drugs that eat your stomach lining. However, non-erosive gastritis occurs due to irritation of the stomach lining. One form of non-erosive gastritis is atrophic gastritis. Moreover, it can cause digestive problems.

In most cases, the gastritis is called based on the cause. Check below some examples:

  • Stress-induced gastritis
  • Eosinophilic gastritis
  • Autoimmune gastritis
  • Alcohol-induced gastritis
  • Infectious gastritis
  • Drug-induced gastritis, and others

This health issue is considered a very common condition because it often affects roughly 8 in every 1,000 people in the U.S. Furthermore, about half of the population suffers from chronic gastritis worldwide.


While mild gastritis may not provoke symptoms, severe forms of gastritis may cause indigestion and stomach ulcers that could hurt and bleed. Check below some examples:

  • Appetite changes
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Black blood in your poop or vomit (if you have a bleeding ulcer)

If you feel pain in the epigastric region (upper middle abdomen), likely is gastritis pain. Generally, the location of gastritis pain cannot be exactly identified but if you experience stomach ulcers, you might be able to determine the exact point.


There are different factors that cause gastritis to happen. Commonly, the immune system provokes inflammation in your stomach’s protective barrier to help fight against infection. However, infection somewhere in your body often provokes gastritis. Check below some gastritis causes:

  • Decreased Blood Supply – Major surgery, trauma, severe illnesses, and physiological stress are factors that could decrease blood supply to your digestive system. Therefore, causing a decrease in your stomach lining’s defense, which makes it vulnerable to different acids and chemicals.
  • Autoimmune Disease – If you have an autoimmune disease, it means that your own immune system performs mistaken attacks on your body’s cells with inflammation. Thus, this effect causes chronic inflammation and may lead to gastritis. In rare cases, an individual may experience gastritis as a side effect of another immune disease.
  • Chemicals – Some drugs and alcohol are usually the cause of acute or chronic gastritis. It only depends on how much you are using them. These substances may also cause erosive gastritis also called chemical erosion of the stomach lining. Misuse of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including Ibuprofen and Aspirin is the most common cause of acute gastritis.
  • Infections – One of the most common causes of gastritis is infections. Viral infections and bacterial infections related to stomach flu can provoke short-term reactions. H. pylori infection is a chronic bacterial infection that provokes chronic gastritis. Parasite and fungal infections are less likely to cause acute or chronic gastritis.
  • Additional Causes – Radiation therapy (mucositis), chemotherapy, and bile reflux are other factors that may also provoke gastritis.


If you leave gastritis untreated it may result in certain complications. For example:

Non-erosive Gastritis, Atrophy and Metaplasia

Non-erosive gastritis usually does not cause problems but after many years it may lead to diminished stomach mucosa (atrophy). Therefore, you may experience problems with digesting and absorbing certain nutrients including vitamin B12 (pernicious anemia), folic acid, iron, and others.

Long-term gastritis may in rare cases restructure themselves, which makes them look different sort of tissue. Therefore, physicians consider this type of tissue precancerous, which means that you may be at increased risk of developing stomach cancer.

Erosive Gastritis and Ulcer Complications

This type of gastritis may lead to peptic ulcer disease. Therefore, a person may experience gastrointestinal bleeding that can provoke anemia. Scarring of the stomach tissue also may appear due to frequent ulcers.

Gastrointestinal perforation (a hole through your stomach) can happen if you leave an ulcer untreated. It also may cause peritonitis because bacteria can pass throughout your abdominal cavity. Other peritonitis complications are septicemia and sepsis.


Physicians commonly ask about symptoms and medical history. Thereafter, they may perform some tests including upper GI series, which is a series of X-rays of your upper GI tract that can help to determine whether you have gastritis or not. However, usually, gastritis is diagnosed by taking a tissue sample (biopsy). In addition, your doctor may perform other tests to check for complications. For example blood tests, stool tests, H. pylori breath tests, and others. Ask your physician if you have any questions.


You might wonder if gastritis can go away itself. Inflammation can go down for example if your body’s defense (immune system) clears the infection and the healing process will begin. However, if you experience chronic gastritis, it often does not go away itself and needs treatment. In such cases, this type of gastritis usually happens due to some chronic illnesses, which require treatment.

There are some nonprescription drugs that can help to lessen gastritis symptoms. However, inform your doctor before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

To treat your chronic gastritis fast and safely, you should consult with a physician. Depending on the cause, your healthcare professional will prescribe a treatment. Check below some examples:

  • Antibiotics
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Treatment for alcohol or drug addiction
  • Medicines used in the treatment of autoimmune conditions
  • Rarely, surgery that will help to treat gastrointestinal bleeding, ischemia, or bile reflux
  • Acid-blocking medicines

Consult with your doctor if you suspect you have gastritis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is gastritis contagious?

The condition itself is not contagious but the infection that causes this condition may be. For example, H. pylori infected most of the world’s population and it can spread by fecal to oral route. Washing your hands regularly before a meal can help to prevent the spreading of the infection.

What foods I should avoid with gastritis?

Some foods may worsen your symptoms. For example spicy, fried, acidic, fatty, and processed foods. These include fast foods, full-fat dairy, tomatoes, citrus, and others. Furthermore, you should avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks. It is recommended to choose non-acidic and low-sugar foods.

How long does it take gastritis to heal?

In most cases, acute gastritis lasts for approximately 2-10 days. However, not treated chronic gastritis may last from weeks to years. If you notice any gastritis symptoms, it is advised to see a doctor.

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