It’s happened to many of us before: not long after finishing a meal, you have a gnawing or burning stomach pain. While many may write it off as simply heartburn, it may be a symptom of gastritis, a common condition that can occur gradually or suddenly in response to certain triggers, such as food.
Not surprisingly, diet and lifestyle can have a significant impact on your digestive health and your overall health, which is why it is so important to pay attention to what you eat.
What is Gastritis?
Gastritis is an inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of your stomach. Your stomach normally produces acid to help break down the food you eat and to kill any germs or bacteria. Stomach acid is corrosive, but there is usually a balance between the amount of acid you make and a natural, protective layer of mucous lining your stomach. When there is an imbalance or an excessive amount of acid, you can develop gastritis.
While easily treatable, if not addressed, gastritis can last a long time or may lead to a stomach ulcer or anemia.
What are the Symptoms of Gastritis?
While symptoms may vary from person to person, some of the most common symptoms include:
- Burning feeling in the stomach between meals or at night
- Abdominal pain, especially in the upper abdomen just below the sternum or breastbone
- Nausea or recurrent upset stomach
- Abdominal bloating
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting blood
- Black, tarry stools
What Foods Trigger Gastritis?
Diet does not generally cause chronic gastritis, but some foods can make the symptoms worse, including fried, fatty, spicy, and highly acidic foods, such as citrus fruits or tomatoes. Other triggers include alcohol, coffee, and fruit juices.
There are a number of foods and drinks that can help ease symptoms of gastritis and promote good digestive health, including:
- High-fiber foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans
- Low-fat foods: fish, lean meats, and vegetables
- Low-acidity foods: vegetables and beans
- Non-carbonated drinks
- Caffeine-free drinks
The Helicobacter pylori bacteria is the most common cause of gastritis, so eating healthy, probiotic foods can help as well, such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
How is Gastritis Treated?
Fortunately, gastritis improves quickly once treatment has begun, and the underlying problems or causes have been resolved. Treatments include:
- Acid-suppressing medications: your physician may encourage you to take antacids or other drugs, such as H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to reduce acid in your stomach
- Adjustment to your diet: avoiding hot and spicy foods and removing irritating foods from your diet, such as lactose from dairy or gluten from wheat, and eating smaller and more frequent meals can have a significant impact
If your gastritis is caused by a bacterial infection, your physician may prescribe antibiotics, along with acid-blocking drugs; if pernicious anemia is the cause, the physician may give you a B12 vitamin shot.
Gastroenterologist Can Help Symptoms Of Gastritis
If you are experiencing symptoms of gastritis, it is important to follow up with a specialist right way who can conduct an endoscopy to confirm your diagnosis. Digestive Health Centers can help, and we’re ready to have a conversation with you about gastritis or any other digestive issues you have. Contact us today for more information.