Gastritis affects millions of people every year. It can strike quickly and without warning, or slowly worsen over time. Whether it is acute or chronic, the pain, nausea, and vomiting it may cause can affect anyone suffering from this condition. Fortunately, gastritis is usually easily treated once diagnosed, and with the use of maintenance medication may never return. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the common causes of gastritis are the same.
The most common cause of chronic, non-erosive gastritis is an infection from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). H. pylori are a type of bacteria that infect the lining of the stomach. They are usually transmitted from person-to-person. In areas that have poor sanitation, H. pylori may also be passed on through contaminated water or food. It is estimated that in the United States and other industrialized countries, up to 50% of the population may have H. pylori infections, although it does not cause gastritis in every person infected.
The most common cause of erosive gastritis, whether acute or chronic, is prolonged or frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs. These drugs include aspirin and ibuprofen. For patient whose gastritis is diagnosed as being caused by these medications, doctors usually recommend patients switch to another form of pain medication such as acetaminophen.
Pernicious anemia is another frequent cause of gastritis. This medical condition occurs when a person’s stomach lacks the ability to absorb and digest vitamin B12. If a patient is diagnosed with this form of anemia, vitamin B12 shots can be administered to bypass the stomach’s inability to process the vitamin.
Stress gastritis is a form of gastritis that is a secondary development from another condition, such as major surgery, traumatic injury, severe burns or critical illness. In these cases, treating the primary cause and administering acid reducers are successful remedies for this form of gastritis.
Other, less common causes of gastritis include autoimmune disorders, digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, and fungal or viral infections. There are also bacteria other than H. pylori that can cause gastritis.