What are possible complications of gastritis?

Gastritis is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Characterised by inflammation of the stomach lining, gastritis can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms and potentially serious health complications if left untreated. In this comprehensive article, London Mums magazine‘s experts will delve into the intricacies of gastritis, explore its symptoms, delve into potential complications and provide valuable insights into managing and overcoming this condition.

teenager girl sitting down desperate and worried

An Overview

Gastritis refers to the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. This inflammation can be acute or chronic and it may arise from various factors, including bacterial infections, excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), stress and autoimmune disorders. The inflammation can disrupt the stomach’s protective barrier, leading to irritation, discomfort and potential complications.

However, with proper dietary practices and home remedies for gastric problems help alleviate the adverse effects it cause.

Symptoms

Gastritis can manifest in a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain. It is important to recognise these symptoms to seek appropriate medical attention. Common symptoms include:

Abdominal Pain

One of the hallmark symptoms of gastritis is abdominal pain. This pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation. The pain is often felt in the upper abdomen and it may worsen after eating.

Nausea and Vomiting

Gastritis can lead to feelings of nausea and, in some cases, vomiting. These symptoms can further contribute to a decrease in appetite and weight loss.

Bloating and Indigestion

Patients with gastritis may experience bloating, belching and indigestion. This can be uncomfortable and affect the overall quality of life.

Heartburn

Gastritis-related inflammation can lead to acid reflux and heartburn, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat.

Loss of Appetite

Inflammation and discomfort can result in a reduced desire to eat, leading to potential nutritional deficiencies.

Dark Stools

Chronic gastritis may cause bleeding in the stomach, leading to the presence of dark, tarry stools.

Health Complications of Gastritis

While many cases of gastritis can be managed effectively, untreated or poorly managed gastritis can lead to various health complications:

Gastritis, characterised by inflammation of the stomach lining, can lead to a range of health complications if not properly managed. The inflammation can disrupt the stomach’s natural protective mechanisms and compromise its ability to function optimally. Here, we delve into the various health complications that can arise from gastritis:

Peptic Ulcers

Chronic gastritis, particularly when caused by factors such as Helicobacter pylori infection or prolonged use of NSAIDs, can weaken the stomach lining over time. This can lead to the development of peptic ulcers – open sores that form on the inner lining of the stomach or the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum). Peptic ulcers can cause intense abdominal pain, especially when the stomach is empty or during the night. They may also lead to bleeding, which can manifest as blood in vomit (haematemesis) or dark, tarry stools (melaena).

Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Gastritis-related inflammation can lead to erosions or breaks in the blood vessels of the stomach lining, resulting in gastrointestinal bleeding. This bleeding can be gradual and chronic or sudden and acute, depending on the severity of the inflammation. Chronic bleeding may lead to anaemia, characterised by fatigue, weakness and pale skin. Severe bleeding may require immediate medical intervention to stop the bleeding and prevent further complications.

Anaemia

Chronic gastritis and gastrointestinal bleeding can lead to a condition known as gastritis-associated anaemia. Anaemia occurs when there is a deficiency of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood, resulting in reduced oxygen-carrying capacity. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath and pale skin. Anaemia can further impair overall health and quality of life.

Gastric Cancer

Chronic gastritis, particularly when caused by persistent infection with Helicobacter pylori, can increase the risk of developing gastric (stomach) cancer over time. Prolonged inflammation and damage to the stomach lining can lead to genetic changes in the cells, increasing the likelihood of cancerous growth. While most cases of gastritis do not progress to cancer, long-standing and untreated cases should be closely monitored by a healthcare professional.

Malabsorption and Nutritional Deficiencies

Inflammation in the stomach lining can impair the production of digestive enzymes and acid, leading to difficulties in breaking down and absorbing nutrients from food. This malabsorption can result in nutritional deficiencies, including deficiencies in essential vitamins (such as B12) and minerals (such as iron and calcium). Over time, these deficiencies can lead to a range of health issues, including fatigue, muscle weakness, bone problems and compromised immune function.

Perforation and Sepsis

In severe cases of gastritis, especially if left untreated, the inflammation and erosion of the stomach lining can progress to a perforation or hole in the stomach wall. This can lead to the leakage of stomach contents into the abdominal cavity, causing a serious condition known as peritonitis. Peritonitis can lead to widespread infection (sepsis), which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Digestive Disorders

Chronic gastritis can contribute to or exacerbate other digestive disorders, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The weakened stomach lining and increased stomach acid production can lead to acid reflux, causing symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation and chest discomfort.

Managing and Overcoming Gastritis

The good news is that gastritis can often be effectively managed and treated, reducing the risk of complications. Here are some strategies for managing and overcoming gastritis:

Medical Treatment

If you suspect you have gastritis, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. Treatment may involve medications such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce stomach acid, antibiotics if bacterial infection is present and other medications to alleviate symptoms.

Dietary Modifications

Adopting a gastritis-friendly diet can play a crucial role in managing the condition. Avoiding spicy, acidic and greasy foods, as well as limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, can help reduce irritation to the stomach lining.

Stress Management

Chronic stress can exacerbate gastritis symptoms. Practising relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga can help alleviate stress and promote overall well-being.

Hydration and Small Meals

Drinking plenty of water and consuming smaller, more frequent meals can help prevent excess stomach acid production and reduce discomfort.

Avoiding NSAIDs

If possible, avoid prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as they can contribute to gastritis.

Treating Underlying Conditions

If gastritis is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as an autoimmune disorder, addressing that condition can contribute to better gastritis management.

Helicobacter Pylori Eradication

If the gastritis is caused by an H. pylori infection, a course of antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare professional can help eradicate the bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Best Dietary Practices for Gastritis

Diet plays a crucial role in both avoiding and managing gastritis. This acts as one of the best home remedies for gastric disorders. Certain dietary practices can help prevent the onset of gastritis or alleviate its symptoms. Here, we will explore dietary recommendations to avoid and overcome gastritis:

Avoid Trigger Foods

Certain foods and beverages can trigger or worsen gastritis symptoms. It’s important to limit or avoid spicy foods, acidic foods, fatty and fried foods, caffeine and carbonated foods.

Opt for Gastritis-Friendly Foods

Incorporate foods that are gentle on the stomach and may help alleviate gastritis symptoms such as high-fibre foods, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products and healthy fats.

Small, Frequent Meals

Instead of large, heavy meals, opt for smaller, more frequent meals. This approach can help prevent excess stomach acid production and reduce discomfort.

Herbal Teas

Certain herbal teas, such as chamomile, ginger and liquorice root, have anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe the stomach. Sip on these teas between meals.

Limit Processed and Fast Foods

Processed and fast foods are often high in salt, unhealthy fats and additives that can irritate the stomach lining. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining good digestion and preventing dehydration, which can exacerbate gastritis symptoms.

Avoid Late-Night Eating

Eating close to bedtime can lead to acid reflux and worsen gastritis symptoms. Aim to finish your last meal at least two to three hours before sleeping.

Identify Individual Triggers

While certain foods are commonly associated with gastritis, individual sensitivities can vary. Keep a food diary to track which foods or beverages seem to trigger your symptoms and adjust your diet accordingly.

Consider Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support gut health. Consult your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement to ensure it’s appropriate for your condition.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can exacerbate gastritis symptoms. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga and mindfulness to promote overall well-being.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you have gastritis, consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalised dietary recommendations. They can help you create a tailored meal plan that meets your nutritional needs while minimising gastritis symptoms.

 

Gastritis is a prevalent gastrointestinal condition that, if left untreated, can lead to various health complications. Recognising the symptoms and seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for effective management. By adopting a combination of medical treatment, dietary modifications, stress management and lifestyle changes, individuals can successfully manage gastritis and prevent potential complications. Remember, each individual’s experience with gastritis may vary, so consulting a healthcare professional for personalised guidance is essential.

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