7 Things You Need To Know About Gastritis

Find out the risk factors, symptoms, treatment, and more.

Updated on October 11, 2017 14:10 pm

Catherine Zhang

things you need to know about gastritis

Gastritis, an inflammation of the the lining of the stomach, affects 25 to 31 percent of Singaporeans—with ages 15 to 50 being the most commonly affected age group. It can be acute (which happens suddenly) or chronic (which happens over time). If left untreated, chronic gastritis increases risk of developing other complications such as stomach ulcer, as well as polyps and tumours in your stomach.

Here are seven things you need to know about gastritis to make sure you’re on top of your health:

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1. Risk factors vary.

There are many factors that increase your risk of having gastritis. These include infection with virus, parasites, and certain types of bacteria including H. pylori, which is associated with stomach ulcers. People who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen are also at risk. Smoking, drinking alcohol, being stressed, and taking illegal drugs like cocaine contribute to the development of gastritis.

2. Sometimes, symptoms don’t occur.

Some people who have gastritis don’t experience symptoms. When they do, some common signs are stomach and abdominal pain, bloating, stomach fullness, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, fatigue, heartburn, gas, dark stools, and blood in stools.

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3. There are several ways to diagnose it.

Gastritis can be diagnosed through blood tests, which can show if you have anemia or a low red blood cell count. It can also determine the presence of an infection. Stool test is another test that can diagnose gastritis. It checks the presence of blood in your stool, which is a symptom of gastritis. Your healthcare provider can also use an endoscope or a tube with a light and camera at the end. Endoscopy looks for inflammation or bleeding in a person’s stomach.

4. Seek immediate help.

Don’t ignore your symptoms and hope that they will just go away. While over-the-counter drugs are available to reduce stomach acid, make sure to go to your healthcare provider if you are vomiting blood, have black or bloody stool, have severe stomach pain, or have questions or concerns about your condition.

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5. Treatment depends on the cause.

The ultimate goal of treating gastritis is reduction of acid in your stomach. It helps to know the cause of your gastritis to be able to use the best treatment. For those whose gastritis is caused by the bacteria H. pylori, your healthcare provider will treat it with antibiotics. If NSAIDs and other drugs are the cause, avoiding them may help relieve the symptoms. Some medicines also help neutralise stomach acid. Talk to your doctor to find the best medicine for you.

6. Prevention is always the key.

There are a number of habits you can observe to decrease your likelihood of developing gastritis. Aside from other benefits, quitting smoking is also good for your stomach because nicotine and other chemicals can worsen your symptoms. Try to avoid or lessen your alcohol intake and unless directed, do not take NSAIDs or aspirin.

Believe it or not, stress is also a big factor for developing gastritis because it increases the acid in your stomach. Find time to relax, do activities like yoga or meditation, and spend time with people outside of work.

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7. Your choice of food is important.

Certain food can help you manage your gastritis. Eat high-fibre food like apples, broccoli, carrots, and oatmeal as well as low-fat food like fish and chicken. Avoid acidic and spicy food, and opt for food high in alkaline like vegetables. Also, avoid drinking carbonated and caffeinated beverages.


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Cover photo courtesy of Samsung Medical Center

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