Gastritis refers to inflammation of the stomach lining, which can be cause by a number of different factors. In many cases, people with gastritis do not experience symptoms but the most common symptom of the condition is upper central abdominal pain.
Types of gastritis
If the onset of gastritis is severe and sudden, the condition is referred to as acute gastritis, while gastritis that occurs slowly over a long period is referred to as chronic. In some cases, the condition can give rise to ulcers and even increase the risk of stomach cancer, but for most individuals, gastritis is not a severe condition and passes when treated.
Assessing the severity of gastritis is sometimes complicated because the more severe cases may present with only mild symptoms and vice versa. This can mean that the condition goes unidentified and untreated until a more severe complication develops such as a peptic ulcer.
Some of the symptoms of gastritis include:
- Upper abdominal pain is the primary symptom of gastritis. The pain may be felt just underneath the breast bone, in the left upper portion of the abdomen and in the back. The pain may also radiate from the front of the abdomen towards the back. Usually, the pain is sharp and sudden.
- Belching may relieve the pain momentarily.
- Gastritis may lead to abdominal bloating and a feeling of fullness, especially after a meal.
- Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of gastritis. The vomitus may be clear, green or yellow and may contain blood, depending on the degree of damage and inflammation. Green or yellow vomit indicates biliary reflux.
- In cases of gastritis caused by pernicious anaemia, other anemia symptoms may be present such as pale appearance, breathing difficulty and fatigue.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc