Gastritis: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments

Chronic indigestion and stomach aches are not normal. They may be signs of gastritis — an inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can lead to more serious conditions in the stomach and upper digestive system. Your doctor can refer you to a gastroenterologist for testing and treatment.


A layer of tissue called the mucosa lines the stomach and protects it from the acids that digest food. When the mucosa becomes inflamed, it can become damaged. The most common causes of mucosal damage include: 

  • Overgrowth of H. pylori, a common bacteria found in the stomach
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, i.e., ibuprofen
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking


When the mucosa becomes inflamed, it makes it more difficult to digest food. Indigestion results in symptoms of stomach pain, heartburn, bloating, and nausea. Other symptoms of gastritis include loss of appetite, vomiting, and dark stools.


The gastroenterologist will order tests to diagnose gastritis and gauge the extent of the inflammation. The doctor will likely test you for H. pylori bacteria, which can be detected by a breath test or stool test. Further testing includes looking at the mucosa with a scope that passes down the esophagus into the stomach. The doctor may also order an x-ray of the upper digestive tract to look for abnormalities in the mucosa. 


If test results show a bacterial infection as the cause of your gastritis, the doctor will prescribe one or more antibiotics. The doctor may also prescribe medications to control the amount of acid in the stomach. This will help to reduce inflammation so the stomach lining can heal. Antacids neutralize some of the excess acid in the stomach. Histamine blockers (H-2) block the production of acid, and proton-pump inhibitors reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

Foods that Help

In addition to medication, dietary changes can also help to manage symptoms and reduce inflammation. Foods that are high in fiber can help with gastritis. Eating fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, onions, garlic, apples, and celery that contain flavonoids may also be beneficial.                         

Foods to Avoid

You can reduce stomach inflammation by limiting or avoiding acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits and juices, carbonated drinks, and coffee. Gastritis patients should also avoid high-fat foods because they are difficult to digest. Limit or discontinue alcohol and tobacco usage because they irritate the stomach lining.   


If left untreated, gastritis can cause serious complications in the digestive system. In some cases, gastritis can lead to the development of ulcers in the stomach. Over time, these bleeding sores can cause anemia. Bleeding ulcers due to gastritis can result in a vitamin B12 deficiency called pernicious anemia. The chronic inflammation of gastritis can also lead to cancerous growth in the stomach lining.