Copyright

What is Acute Gastritis? - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Jamila Blount
Everyone has experienced uncomfortable stomach cramping and pain, but have you ever wondered what causes that pain? In this lesson, you will learn about acute gastritis, including its causes, symptoms and treatment.

Background

Irritation or inflammation of the gastric lining is called gastritis. Gastritis is further categorized by how long a person has irritation or inflammation to the gastric lining. Gastritis can be acute, or developing suddenly with high severity, or chronic, developing over a long period of time with gradual increase of irritation. In this lesson, we will focus on acute gastritis.

When the gastric lining of the stomach becomes irritated or inflamed, it swells and becomes very painful. In addition to this irritation, remember that the gastric lining releases hydrochloric acid, which aids in the digestion of food. Imagine having an open sore (gastric lining irritation) and someone pours alcohol (hydrochloric acid) on it. Ouch! This is a simple example of what a person's gastric lining is experiencing in gastritis.

Causes

The most common causes of acute gastritis are chronic usage of certain medications and a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. It can also be induced by overstimulation of nerves that release hydrochloric acid.

Gastritis caused by H. pylori bacteria
Gastritis

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common type of medication that can cause acute gastritis. The action of the medication is to stop the hormones that cause inflammation, which helps to reduce pain in conditions like arthritis and menstrual cramps. However, if there is excessive use of this medication, it can lead gastric lining irritation. NSAIDs block a hormone called COX-1, which reduces inflammation in the gastric lining, but also reduces the protective barrier of the gastric lining. In other words, NSAIDs fix one problem (inflammation), but create another problem (decreased protective barrier of the stomach).

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is another common cause of acute gastritis. This is a bacterium that is transmitted through saliva. H. pylori nestles into the gastric lining and eats at the tissues. This jump starts the inflammatory process, decreases the mucus that lines the stomach, and exposes the lining to the highly acidic hydrochloric acid in the stomach. If a person is not treated for H. pylori, it will lead to ulcerations or holes in the gastric lining.

H. pylori imbeds in the gastric lining
H. pylori imbeds in the gastric lining

Symptoms

Gastric pain is the main symptom that most people complain about. However, it is not uncommon for a person to not have any symptoms at all. Other possible symptoms of acute gastritis include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and black tarry stools.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support