HomeStandard StyleGastritis: A condition for many!

Gastritis: A condition for many!

health talk:with Dr Johannes Marisa

A lot of people often have loose talks such as “Ndine ma Ulcers”. Quite often, a lot of medication has been taken some through prescriptions while others are just over the counter. Although some relief comes, so many do not understand what will be taking place along the gastrointestinal tract. The World Health Organisation approximates that gastritis affects half of the entire global population, with close to 90 million cases developing the condition in 2013 alone.

What is Gastritis?

Gastritis is a general term for a group of conditions with one thing in common: inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Quite often, the inflammation is due to an infection with some bacteria that can also give stomach ulcers. Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or can appear slowly over time (chronic gastritis). In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers and increased risk of stomach cancer.

Symptoms

Be wary about gastritis if you have some of the following symptoms:

lHeartburn.

lEpigastric pain which may become worse with eating.

lNausea.

lVomiting which may be yellowish stuff.

lA feeling of fullness in your upper abdomen after eating.

Causes

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach lining. Weaknesses or injury to the mucus-lined barrier that protects your stomach wall allows your digestive juices to damage and inflame your stomach lining. There are therefore risk factors for gastritis that we ought to know about. These are:

Bacterial infection: Infection with Helicobacter Pylori can predispose to gastritis. It is believed that vulnerability to the bacterium could be inherited or could be caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking and diet.

Regular use of pain killers: Common pain killers especially of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory type (NSAIDS) like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Indomethacin, Naproxen, can cause both acute and chronic gastritis. Be careful when using such drugs as they are quite common because of their widespread use in conditions such as Arthritis and common pains.

Excessive alcohol use: Alcohol can irritate and erode your stomach lining, which makes your stomach more vulnerable to digestive juices. Excessive alcohol use is more likely to cause acute gastritis.

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

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.

What are the aggravating foodstuffs for Gastritis?

While patients take pride in taking medication, it is senseless if some foodstuffs continue to be taken. These can worsen the gastritis and below are some of the foodstuffs that can worsen:

lSpices

lOranges, lemons, apples and their respective juices

lBeans

lSweet potatoes (mbambaira)

lCarbonated drinks like coke, Fanta, sprite etc.

lAlcohol

lCoffee and some teas

NB**For tea addicts, make use of Rooibos which is caffeine-free. Remember to add a lot of milk into the tea as milk is a natural anti-acid. Drinks in the form of guava juices, grapes, strawberry juices are better in cases of epigastric pains.

Diagnosis

High suspicion of gastritis comes from history and examination of patient. Please give correct presentation of symptoms. Watch out for worsening and relieving factors of the given pain. Is pain worse upon eating? Is pain worse at night? Is pain worse when taking particular foodstuffs?

Moreover, the following tests can be done as part of investigations:

Tests for Helicobacter Pylori

Tests should be done to determine whether you have bacterium H Pylori. H Pylori may be detected in a blood test, stool test or by a breadth test.

Do endoscopy

This is a procedure where a flexible tube equipped with lens is inserted down the throat into the oesophagus, stomach and first parts of the small intestines. Signs of inflammation are looked for and if there is a suspicious area, then small tissue samples are taken for histological examination.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the specific cause. If it is due to NSAIDS, then stopping the use treats the gastritis. However, the following are commonly used to manage gastritis:

Anti-acids to neutralise stomach acid: These include MMT, Gaviscon, Rubragel, Relcer gel. All these are readily available in pharmacies and some shops.

Drugs to reduce acid production: These include Histamine (H2) blockers like Cimetidine, Ranitidine, Famotidine and Nizatidine.

Drugs that block acid production and promote healing: Include proton pump inhibitors and include such common drugs as Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Esomeprazole, Dexlanzoprazole and Pantoprazole.

lDr Johannes Marisa is a public health practitioner in private practice who can be accessed on doctormarisa@gmail.com.

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