Gastritis - acute

Acute gastritis is a sudden inflammation of the stomach lining.

Causes

Acute gastritis may be caused by:

  • Certain medications, such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroids
  • Alcohol
  • Eating or drinking corrosive substances
  • Extreme stress
  • Infections, such as the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, or much less often, cytomegalovirus or herpes simplex virus

Acute gastritis is often associated with a severe, acute illness or trauma. The following increase your risk of acute gastritis:

  • Aspirin or NSAID use
  • Recent heavy alcohol use
  • Major surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Respiratory failure

Symptoms

  • Dark stools
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds

Exams and Tests

Tests that may be done to diagnose acute gastritis include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC, shows anemia)
  • Gastroscopy
  • Stool test for bleeding
  • Upper GI and small bowel x-ray series

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the gastritis. Antacids or other medications to decrease or neutralize stomach acid will usually relieve the symptoms and promote healing. Stop taking any medications that cause gastritis. Gastritis may progress to a gastric ulcer, requiring additional treatment.

Gastritis due to stress is best treated by prevention. Medications to decrease gastric acid production, such as proton pump inhibitors, should be considered for stressed hospital patients.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most gastritis improves rapidly with treatment.

Possible Complications

A potential complication is a severe loss of blood.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of gastritis persist longer than 2 or 3 days. Call your health care provider if you vomit blood or have bloody stools.

Prevention

Controlling risk factors may help prevent this condition. For example, do not use or limit your use of NSAIDs and alcohol.

Alternative Names

Acute gastritis