Gastritis is a condition where the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed. The lining contains glands that function to produce stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) and an enzyme known as pepsin. The acid helps to break down foods while pepsin digests protein. Since the hydrochloric acid is corrosive, the lining of the stomach is coated with a layer of mucus to help prevent the acid from breaking down the lining. When gastritis occurs, the stomach produces less acid, enzymes, and protective mucus.
Gastritis can be acute (starts suddenly and only lasts for a short time) or chronic (lasts for a long time, possibly years or even throughout life). In erosive gastritis, the stomach lining wears away causing ulcers or deep sores. Non-erosive gastritis does not cause ulcers but leads to inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can be caused by a Helicobacter pylori infection, if there is damage to lining (due to alcohol, medication, or drugs) causing reactive gastritis, or an autoimmune disorder.
Symptom #1: Pain
The commonest symptom of gastritis is abdominal pain that can range from moderate to severe. Due to the innervations and location of the stomach in the body, the pain is usually located in the upper part of the abdomen, in the midline. The pain can usually be described as a gnawing, dull, and aching pain while some have also reported sharp and shooting pain. The pain is not relieved with change of position. It can be aggravated by certain foods especially acidic foods. Antacids are usually effective in relieving the pain, even if not completely.