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Chronic gastritis involves swelling or inflammation of the stomach lining. If you have this condition, you might feel full after eating just a few bites. Chronic gastritis might be painless or cause you dull, persistent stomach pain. It occurs slowly over time, as opposed to acute gastritis, which comes on suddenly.
In some cases, chronic gastritis is associated with ulcers and may increase your risk for stomach cancer. In most people, however, the condition gets better quickly with treatment and has few lasting effects.
A variety of medications and conditions can irritate the lining of your stomach, leading to chronic gastritis. Examples include:
You are at greater risk for chronic gastritis if your lifestyle and dietary habits increase the acidic content of your stomach. If you frequently eat large amounts of fats, oils, and citrus fruits and drink lots of coffee, you are at greater risk for the condition. Similarly, drinking large amounts of alcohol long-term can lead to chronic gastritis.
A stressful lifestyle or traumatic experiences that increase anger and hostility can also increase the amount of acid in your stomach. If you have a weakened immune system or certain illnesses, like Crohn’s disease, you are also more at risk for chronic gastritis.
You may have this condition and not experience any symptoms. People who do have symptoms often experience the following:
In more extreme cases, you may experience stomach bleeding and/or black stools. Seek treatment immediately if you have black stools, vomit blood, or have a persistent stomach ache.
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and symptoms. A series of tests may also be necessary, including:
Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce your stomach acid. The most common medicines to reduce gastric acid are antacids (Alka-Seltzer and Tums), H2 antagonists (Zantac), and proton-pump inhibitors (Prilosec) available both over-the-counter and by prescription. Reducing or eliminating aspirin and similar medicines is also recommended in order to decrease stomach irritation.
Your doctor might recommend a bland diet to reduce stomach irritation. Foods to avoid include:
Recommended foods generally include foods with little oil, fat, caffeine, or citrus:
How well you recover from chronic gastritis depends on the underlying cause of the condition. If the problem is caused by an acidic diet, limiting certain foods and taking medication can keep your symptoms under control. Commonly, the condition will disappear and return again if you resume an acidic diet. If the condition is allowed to continue without treatment, risks include stomach bleeding and gastric cancer.
You can help prevent gastritis by monitoring your diet and stress levels. Limiting alcohol and aspirin intake may also help to prevent the condition.
Written by: Chitra Badii and Jennifer Nelson
Published on Aug 16, 2012
Updated on Feb 15, 2013
Medically reviewed by George Krucik, MD
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