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Gastritis

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By Isatou Nyang
4th year medical student

UTG Medical Students’ Association

“Sama gastric b” a phrase I have been hearing for a long time without knowing what it was. Heard my elders say that’s an excuse most elders use if they don’t want to fast. Funny, right?

During school, most students would be like “I have gastric. I can’t eat this” and some would tell their mates “stop eating sour food”.

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At a point I term it as the Gambian disease. Now let’s discuss about what gastritis truly is.

What is Gastritis?

Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common:

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o          An inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of the stomach.

o          The inflammation of gastritis is often the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers or the regular use of certain pain relievers. 

o          Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or appear slowly over time (chronic gastritis).

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of gastritis include;

o  Excessive alcohol use

Alcohol can irritate and erode your stomach lining, which makes your stomach more vulnerable to digestive juices.

o  Chronic vomiting

o  Stress

Severe stress due to major surgery, injury, burns or severe infections can cause acute gastritis.

o  Regular use of pain relievers.

Pain relievers commonly referred to as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) — such as ibuprofen can cause both acute gastritis and chronic gastritis.

o  Older age.

Older adults have an increased risk of gastritis because the stomach lining tends to thin with age and because older adults are more likely to have H. pylori infection or autoimmune disorders than younger people are.

o  Cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatment can increase your risk of gastritis.

o Your own body attacking cells in your stomach.

Called autoimmune gastritis, this type of gastritis occurs when your body attacks the cells that make up your stomach lining. This reaction can wear away at your stomach’s protective barrier.

o Other diseases and conditions. Gastritis may be associated with other medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS.

o  Bacterial infection.

Although infection with Helicobacter pylori is among the most common worldwide human infections, only some people with the infection develop gastritis or other upper gastrointestinal disorders.

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

Symptoms of gastritis vary among individuals, and in many people, there are no symptoms. However, the most common symptoms include:

o          Nausea or recurrent upset stomach

o          Abdominal bloating

o          Abdominal pain

o          Vomiting

o          Indigestion

o          Burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach between meals or at night

o          Hiccups

o          Loss of appetite

o          Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material

o          Black, tarry stools

How is gastritis diagnosed?

To diagnose gastritis, your doctor will review your personal and family medical history, perform a thorough physical evaluation, and may recommend any of the following tests:

o          Upper endoscopy

o          Biopsy

o          Blood tests

o          They can also screen for H. pylori infection

When to see a doctor

Nearly everyone has had indigestion and stomach irritation. Most cases of indigestion are short-lived and don’t require medical care. See your health care provider if you have signs and symptoms of gastritis for a week or longer.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have severe pain, if you have vomiting where you cannot hold any food down, or if you feel light-headed or dizzy. Tell your doctor if your stomach discomfort occurs after taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs, especially aspirin or other pain relievers.

If you are vomiting blood, have blood in your stools or have stools that appear black, see your doctor right away to determine the cause.

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