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What is Atrophic Gastritis?

By Deneatra Harmon
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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The stomach stores and digests food, but atrophic gastritis interferes with the its normal functions. The digestive condition causes inflammation of the stomach lining. Along with other lifestyle factors, bacterial infection usually causes atrophic gastritis. Symptoms appear to be nonexistent in some patients, while others may experience illness or discomfort. A variety of treatment options help to relieve symptoms of atrophic gastritis. Prevention methods can also keep atrophic gastritis at bay.

Atrophic gastritis develops over several years, especially if a person already suffers from chronic gastritis. The chronic form of gastritis causes stomach irritation from infection by the H. pylori bacteria or other medical conditions such as bile reflux. Long-term alcohol consumption or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) also reportedly cause chronic gastritis. The chronic irritation also causes inflammation, which in the long run leads to atrophy of the stomach lining. The atrophy, or wasting away of the stomach lining, indicates that the gastritis has reached the atrophic stage.

H. pylori bacteria most commonly contributes to the formation of atrophic gastritis. The germ damages the mucous layer that protects the stomach and causes gastric acid to target the stomach lining. Peptic ulcers often result, which over time develops into atrophic gastritis.

Some who are affected by the digestive disorder feel no symptoms, especially in the early stages. Others may experience symptoms such as stomach pain, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Patients may also develop more serious complications including pernicious anemia, a condition that prevents the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from properly absorbing vitamin B12. According to medical sources, pernicious anemia contributes to dementia and raises the risk of stroke if the patient avoids treatment. Whether symptoms are nonexistent, mild, or severe, atrophic gastritis can eventually lead to stomach ulcers or stomach cancer, particularly if the patient does not follow any treatment or prevention methods.

Most treatment options work to remove the H. pylori infection and reverse symptoms of stomach inflammation. Antibiotics can block further infection. A doctor may also prescribe a proton pump inhibitor, along with two types of antibiotics, to help kill the bacteria that causes the stomach condition. Stomach coating medications, such as bismuth subsalicylate, protect the stomach lining and small intestine as well as eliminate infection. Some patients may also require vitamin B12 injections to guard against pernicious anemia.

Certain preventive measures can help some people avoid or reduce stomach inflammation or other related disordres. Medical sources recommend avoiding irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, or cigarettes. Eating smaller meals also eases digestive problems. Instead of taking NSAIDs, doctors recommended taking acetaminophen to protect the stomach lining. Regular hand-washing also helps to ward off the H. pylori bacteria that causes the gastritis.

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