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Gastritis refers to inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small intestine. It can be caused by any number of conditions, including alcoholism, injuries to the stomach, cancer, and even the regular use of aspirin. Gastritis develops in two ways. It can occur very suddenly (acute) or gradually over time (chronic). Over time, gastritis can develop into ulcers and rarely, stomach cancer. However, the majority of people who suffer from gastritis are able to treat it with great success.
Gastritis develops because the stomach's protective layer of mucus is damaged or weakened. The mucus is there to protect the lining of the stomach from stomach acid. When the mucus is damaged, those digestive acids irritate or the lining of the stomach, causing pain and inflammation.
Acute or Chronic
Gastritis is categorised as either acute or chronic. Acute gastritis happens quickly, sometimes suddenly, and usually is signified by pain or a burning sensation in the upper abdomen. This can also be accompanied by nausea. Abuse of alcohol is the most common cause of acute gastritis.
Chronic gastritis, on the other hand, develops slowly over time. Some people do not suffer any symptoms from chronic gastritis, but others feel a dull pain. Sometimes those who suffer from chronic gastritis do not have much of an appetite.
Both types of gastritis can cause bloating, belching, and a feeling of fullness even when the stomach is empty. Very rarely, bleeding of the stomach can occur in someone who is suffering from gastritis. If there is blood in your stool accompanied by any of the above symptoms, or even no symptoms at all, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment for gastritis usually means treating the stomach acid to neutralise it. This can be done with antacids, acid blockers or by lifestyle and diet changes, including limiting alcohol intake or eliminating or reducing the causes of stress in your life.
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