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What is gastritis?

Gastritis (also called dyspepsia) is an inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the lining of the stomach. It can occur suddenly (acute) or gradually (chronic). Chronic gastritis occurs in two of every 10,000 people; acute gastritis is more common, occurring in eight of every 1,000 people.

What causes gastritis?

Gastritis can be caused by irritation due to excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress, or the use of certain medications, such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs. It may also be caused by any of the following:

  • Helicobacter pylori: A bacteria that lives in the mucous lining of the stomach. Without treatment, the infection can lead to ulcers and, rarely, stomach cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia: A form of anemia that occurs when the stomach lacks a naturally occurring substance that is needed to properly absorb and digest vitamin B12.
  • Bile reflux: A backflow of bile (a liquid that is secreted by the liver and helps with digestion) into the stomach.
  • Infections caused by bacteria and viruses.
  • Autoimmune disorders.

If gastritis is not treated, it can lead to severe blood loss or, in rare cases, can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

Symptoms of gastritis vary among individuals; many people have no symptoms. The most common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Hiccups
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material
  • Black, tarry stool