Major Gastritis Symptoms

Gastritis is the name given to inflammation of the gastric mucosa, layer of tissue that lines the wall of the stomach, protecting it against excessive acidity. Gastritis can be acute, when the inflammation arises suddenly, or chronic, when the inflammation is slowly established, and the mucosa can remain inflamed for months or even years.

Pain in stomach area
Pain in stomach area

What is gastritis?

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach wall, which can be caused by numerous problems. Among the most common causes we can mention:

Inflammation can affect the entire mucosa of the stomach in a diffuse form, being called pangastritis, or only some regions, such as the antrum, in the so-called antral gastritis.

Gastritis can also be classified as erosive gastritis or non-erosive gastritis. Erosive gastritis is one that causes little inflammation but causes erosion of the stomach wall, leading to loss of mucus. Erosive gastritis can also lead to ulcers and bleeding. In non-erosive gastritis, there is still mucosa present, but it is very inflamed.

When during digestive endoscopy the mucosa of the stomach besides inflamed also appears to be swollen (with edema), we call it the gastritis enantematosa.

Nervous gastritis

Gastritis is a diagnosis that can only be closed through the stomach biopsy performed during a high digestive endoscopy. The patient may have the symptoms that he has, if there is no inflammation of the mucosa identifiable in digestive endoscopy, we can not say that he has gastritis.

This information is important because we often hear of such a nervous gastritis. First of all let's be clear: there is no gastritis . What the patient may have in situations of stress or nervousness is a picture that we call functional dyspepsia.

Dyspepsia is a term that comprises a number of symptoms related to the stomach, whether or not they are attached to gastritis. Among the symptoms that are included in the term dyspepsia, we can cite:
  • Burning or pain in the stomach area
  • Feeling full after meals
  • Stomach feeling distended
  • Excessive belching (excess belching)
  • Heartburn
  • Early sateen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of bad digestion

Some people who become anxious, nervous, or stressed may have several of these symptoms of dyspepsia, sometimes chronically. However, if there is no inflammation of the stomach mucosa, we can not say that they have gastritis.

It is a common mistake for people who have dyspepsia to think that their stress made them develop gastritis. Day-to-day stress, anxiety, or nervousness DO NOT cause gastritis. They can even cause symptoms of gastritis, may also exacerbate the symptoms of an existing gastritis, but nervousness does not cause gastritis as it does not make the mucosa of the stomach become inflamed.

Therefore, if you are stressed and often have symptoms of gastritis, but digestive endoscopy reveals nothing, your correct diagnosis is functional dyspepsia. On the other hand, if digestive endoscopy really reveals gastritis, one must look for the cause for it, because only the nervousness does not justify the picture.

Symptoms of gastritis

A frequent mistake is to call gastritis any symptom of dyspepsia. There is just a pain or burning in the stomach for people to say they have gastritis. Gastritis is not synonymous with stomach pain.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, most people with gastritis have no symptoms whatsoever. Many patients with gastritis report a small stomach upset after a few meals, but nothing to worry or make them seek a doctor.

In patients who actually have symptoms of gastritis, the most common is a burning in the mouth of the stomach, which for some people improves with food and for others it worsens. All symptoms of dyspepsia described in the previous topic may be present in the patient with gastritis. In addition to burning, heartburn and nausea are also very common.

Symptoms of gastritis can worsen in stressful situations or after drinking alcohol, sodas, coffee or spicy foods. Smoking also worsens the inflammation of the stomach lining, which can aggravate the symptoms.

We can therefore conclude that the diagnosis of gastritis can not be given solely on the basis of the symptoms. There are patients with many symptoms that do not have gastritis, and there are others with little or no symptoms that can have the whole stomach inflamed.

The intensity of the symptoms is also not a good predictor of the severity of gastritis. Having too much or too little stomach pain does not mean that the gastritis is more or less severe. There are patients with erosive gastritis and ulcers who report little pain and there are people with very severe symptoms who have little or no inflammation of the stomach when they do digestive endoscopy.

In severe erosive gastritis, when there is bleeding of the stomach, the patient may present feces very dark, pasty and with very strong odor. These stools, called melena, are composed of digested blood that has passed through the gastrointestinal tract.

In older patients, anemia and digestive bleeding are often the only symptoms of severe gastritis. If gastric bleeding is very bulky, the patient may experience bloody vomiting.

But the most serious chaos is the minority. In most patients, gastritis is a mild condition, which can be easily treated with medications and changes in lifestyle.

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