Gastritis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining. The inflammation may be acute or chronic, and it can be caused by various factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), bacterial infection, or autoimmune diseases. Gastritis affects people of all ages, and the symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and bleeding.
The stomach lining is an essential component of the digestive system, responsible for producing acid and enzymes that break down food. When the lining becomes inflamed, it loses some of its protective functions, making it more vulnerable to further damage. This can lead to the development of ulcers, bleeding, and other complications.
The prevalence of gastritis in India is relatively high, as it is in many other parts of the world. The exact prevalence rate varies depending on the population and the specific type of gastritis being studied. However, studies have suggested that the overall prevalence of gastritis in India is around 25-30%. This makes it a fairly common condition, and one that can have significant impacts on an individual’s overall health and quality of life.
Types of Gastritis:
Gastritis can be classified into several types based on the underlying cause and the affected areas of the stomach:
- Acute gastritis: This type of gastritis develops suddenly and causes inflammation of the stomach lining. It is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, or the use of certain medications.
- Chronic gastritis: Chronic gastritis is a long-term condition that occurs when the stomach lining is constantly inflamed. It is often caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, autoimmune disorders, or prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Erosive gastritis: This type of gastritis occurs when the stomach lining is eroded or damaged. It can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, chronic vomiting, or prolonged use of NSAIDs.
- Atrophic gastritis: Atrophic gastritis is a type of chronic gastritis that leads to the thinning and degeneration of the stomach lining. It is often caused by Helicobacter pylori infection, autoimmune disorders, or pernicious anemia.
- Radiation gastritis: Radiation gastritis is a type of gastritis that occurs as a side effect of radiation therapy to the abdomen or stomach. It causes inflammation and damage to the stomach lining, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
- Chemical gastritis: This type of gastritis is caused by exposure to irritating chemicals such as alcohol, aspirin, or other NSAIDs. It can cause inflammation of the stomach lining, leading to symptoms such as pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Causes of Gastritis:
Gastritis is caused by various factors that can irritate the lining of the stomach. Some of the common causes of gastritis include:
- Helicobacter pylori infection: This bacterium is one of the most common causes of gastritis. It can weaken the protective lining of the stomach and cause inflammation. Helicobacter pylori is usually transmitted through contaminated food or water, and it can also spread through direct contact with an infected person.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Regular use of NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can cause gastritis. These medications can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause inflammation.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause inflammation. Chronic heavy drinking can also lead to a condition called alcoholic gastritis.
- Stress: Prolonged periods of stress can increase the production of stomach acid, which can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause gastritis.
- Autoimmune disorders: In some cases, gastritis can be caused by autoimmune disorders, such as pernicious anemia or autoimmune gastritis. These conditions cause the body’s immune system to attack the stomach lining, leading to inflammation.
- Bile reflux: When bile flows back into the stomach, it can irritate the stomach lining and cause inflammation. This can happen after surgery, or if the pyloric valve (the valve that separates the stomach from the small intestine) doesn’t work properly.
- Viral infections: Certain viral infections, such as cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus, can cause gastritis.
- Other factors: Other factors that can increase the risk of developing gastritis include smoking, exposure to radiation, and certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and sarcoidosis.
Symptoms of Gastritis:
Gastritis can have a variety of symptoms, which may vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms of gastritis include:
- Upper abdominal pain: This is one of the most common symptoms of gastritis. It is often described as a dull, burning, or gnawing pain in the upper middle or upper left part of the abdomen.
- Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms may occur with or without upper abdominal pain. Vomiting may provide temporary relief from pain.
- Loss of appetite: Many people with gastritis may experience a decreased desire to eat, which can lead to weight loss and malnutrition.
- Feeling of fullness: This symptom is often described as a sensation of fullness or bloating in the upper abdomen, even after consuming a small amount of food.
- Belching and bloating: Excessive gas in the stomach can cause belching and bloating, which may exacerbate other symptoms.
- Heartburn and acid reflux: Gastritis can cause inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining, which can lead to acid reflux and heartburn.
- Black or tarry stools: In severe cases of gastritis, internal bleeding may occur, which can cause black or tarry stools.
- Fatigue: Chronic gastritis can lead to anaemia, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Complications of Gastritis:
Gastritis can lead to several complications if left untreated or if it becomes chronic. Some of the complications of gastritis include:
- Peptic ulcer: Chronic gastritis can lead to the development of a peptic ulcer, which is an open sore in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. This can cause pain, bleeding, and other complications.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding: Gastritis can cause bleeding in the stomach or small intestine. In severe cases, this can lead to anaemia and other serious health problems.
- Peritonitis: In some cases, gastritis can lead to inflammation of the lining of the abdomen, a condition known as peritonitis. This is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
- Gastric cancer: Chronic gastritis can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer. This is because the inflammation can damage the cells in the lining of the stomach, which can lead to the development of cancerous cells.
- Malabsorption: Gastritis can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food. This can lead to malnutrition and other health problems.
- Pyloric stenosis: In some cases, gastritis can cause scarring and narrowing of the pylorus, which is the opening between the stomach and small intestine. This can cause food to stay in the stomach for longer periods of time, leading to nausea, vomiting, and other digestive problems.
- Increased risk of infections: Gastritis can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of developing infections, such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections.
Role of Neurotherapy:
Neurotherapy seeks to address this acid-alkaline imbalance to eliminate the root cause of gastritis and other related conditions. Additionally, neurotherapy aims to balance the secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCL) in the stomach, which can further help to reduce the risk of developing gastritis.