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Overview :

Gastritis should not be confused with common symptoms of upper abdominal discomfort. It has been associated with resulting ulcers, particularly peptic ulcers. And in some cases, chronic gastritis can lead to more serious complications.

Nonerosive H. pylori gastritis

The main cause of true gastritis is H. pylori infection. H. pylori is indicated in an average of 90% of patients with chronic gastritis. This form of nonerosive gastritis is the result of infection with Helicobacter pylori bacterium, a microorganism whose outer layer is resistant to the normal effects of stomach acid in breaking down bacteria.

The resistance of H. pylori means that the bacterium may rest in the stomach for long periods of times, even years, and eventually cause symptoms of gastritis or ulcers when other factors are introduced, such as the presence of specific genes or ingestion of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Study of the role of H. pylori in development of gastritis and peptic ulcers has disproved the former belief that stress lead to most stomach and duodenal ulcers and has resulted in improved treatment and reduction of stomach ulcers. H. pylori is most likely transmitted between humans, although the specific routes of transmission were still under study in early 1998. Studies were also underway to determine the role of H. pylori and resulting chronic gastritis in development of gastric cancer.

Erosive and hemorrhagic gastritis

After H. pylori, the second most common cause of chronic gastritis is use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These commonly used pain killers, including aspirin, fenoprofen, ibuprofen and naproxen, among others, can lead to gastritis and peptic ulcers. Other forms of erosive gastritis are those due to alcohol and corrosive agents or due to trauma such as ingestion of foreign bodies.

Other forms of gastritis

Clinicians differ on the classification of the less common and specific forms of gastritis, particularly since there is so much overlap with H. pylori in development of chronic gastritis and complications of gastritis. Other types of gastritis that may be diagnosed include:

  • Acute stress gastritis-the most serious form of gastritis which usually occurs in critically ill patients, such as those in intensive care. Stress erosions may develop suddenly as a result of severe trauma or stress to the stomach lining.
  • Atrophic gastritis is the result of chronic gastritis which is leading to atrophy, or decrease in size and wasting away, of the gastric lining. Gastric atrophy is the final stage of chronic gastritis and may be a precursor to gastric cancer.
  • Superficial gastritis is a term often used to describe the initial stages of chronic gastritis.
  • Uncommon specific forms of gastritis include granulomatous, eosiniphilic and lymphocytic gastritis.

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