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What is gastritis?

Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining.

What are the causes of gastritis?

Gastritis may be caused by the following:

  • Eating spicy foods
  • Prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Infection with bacteria, such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • Major surgery
  • Traumatic injury or burns
  • Severe infection
  • Extreme physiological stress
  • Certain diseases, such as megaloblastic (pernicious) anemia and autoimmune disorders.

Adolescents and young adults may be at a higher risk for gastritis because of:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking.

What are the symptoms of gastritis?

The following are the most common symptoms of gastritis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Stomach upset or pain
  • Belching or hiccups
  • Abdominal bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling of fullness or burning in the stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in vomit or stool (a sign that the stomach lining may be bleeding).

The symptoms of gastritis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult a pediatric gastroenterologist for proper evaluation.

How is gastritis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for gastritis may include the following:

  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (also called EGD or upper endoscopy). A procedure that allows the doctor to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. A thin, flexible, lighted tube, called an endoscope, is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. The endoscope allows the doctor to view this area of the body, as well as removal of a sample of tissue for biopsy (if necessary). Learn more about endoscopy.
  • Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series (also called barium swallow). A diagnostic test that examines the organs of the upper part of the digestive system: the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). A fluid called barium (a metallic, chemical, chalky liquid used to coat the inside of organs so that they will show up on an X-ray) is swallowed. X-rays are then taken to evaluate the digestive organs.
  • Blood tests. Tests that can help detect anemia, a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells present. Anemia can be an indicator of blood loss, which can be linked to gastritis. Learn more about blood tests at CHOC.
  • Stool studies. These studies can be used to check for the presence of H. Pylori or other infections. A small sample of stool is collected and sent to a laboratory by your child’s doctor’s office. Learn more about stool studies.

What is the treatment for gastritis?

Specific treatment for gastritis is determined by your child’s doctor based on:

  • The child’s age, overall health and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Other medical conditions
  • The child’s tolerance of specific medicines, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • The family’s opinion or preference.

Patients are sometimes advised to avoid foods, beverages or medications that cause symptoms or irritate the lining of the stomach. Our gastroenterologists can connect patients and their families with our specially trained dietitians who can provide advice on what food to eat and avoid while treating gastritis.

Generally, treatment for gastritis involves antacids and other medications aimed at reducing stomach acid, relieving symptoms, and promoting the healing of the stomach lining. If gastritis is related to an illness or infection, then that problem should be treated as well. If gastritis is caused by H. pylori, the most common treatment is a triple therapy that combines two antibiotics with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Learn more about H. pylori.