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Gastritis is a condition that occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes swollen or inflamed. In some cases, it lasts only a short period of time, while cases of chronic gastritis can last for months or even years. The causes of gastritis are numerous and typically determine the severity of the condition. In many cases, gastritis is minor and may not even cause any symptoms. Less often, however, the symptoms can be severe. The prognosis is generally good, but some of the underlying causes of gastritis may be severe. Gastritis can occur in both men and women of all ages. Some of the most common causes include consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and infections of the stomach. Certain medications, including those that contain naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, can also lead to gastritis when taken over an extended period of time. Less commonly, bile reflux, autoimmune disorders, extreme stress, viral infections, drug abuse, or the consumption of corrosive or caustic substances may also lead to gastritis. In some cases, sudden trauma or major illness can contribute to the condition as well.

Symptoms of Gastritis

In many cases, patients with gastritis do not experience any noticeable symptoms. Symptoms that may be noticed include nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite, weight loss, or pain in the upper region of the abdomen. In some situations, gastritis may cause bleeding from the lining in the stomach. When this happens, patients may also vomit blood or a material that resembles coffee grounds. Black or tarry stools are also common when bleeding in the stomach is present. Doctors may perform numerous tests to diagnose gastritis. Complete blood counts are often performed to check for low blood count or anemia. Endoscopic procedures may be performed to examine the stomach, and stool samples may be checked for blood. Patients may also be tested for certain types of bacteria or infection.

Treating Gastritis

The treatment for gastritis depends upon the cause. In many cases, the problem can be treated through lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain medication and alcohol. Over-the-counter or prescription drugs may also be used to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach to promote healing. In the vast majority of cases, the prognosis for patients with gastritis is generally good. When it is caused by a severe underlying condition, however, the outlook may not be as good. Rarely, complications may occur as the result of blood loss. Patients with gastritis may also be more likely to develop gastric cancer.