Overview - Gastritis
Is the fear of heartburn killing your pleasure of eating?
Gastritis, also commonly known as ‘heartburn’, ‘dyspepsia’ or acidity, is an irritation/inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It’s one of the commonest digestive problems and up to 10% of the people who report to hospital for abdominal pain have gastritis.
Gastritis is more of a generic term which includes different conditions that present with pain or discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen. This could be of recent origin or long standing duration. Whatever be the cause, Homeopathy has very good scope in the treatment of most cases of gastritis and can provide significant relief to the patients. At Dr. Batra's we have the experience of treating thousands of cases over the last 35 years and we have brought a smile to many patients suffering from gastritis. Go ahead and experience a pain-free life!
What is Gastritis?
The stomach is on fire…
Gastritis is not one single disease … rather it’s an umbrella term which encompasses different conditions which have inflammation of the stomach.
Inflammation means the response of the body tissue to any kind of irritation or injury. For e.g. if you scratch your arm with your nail (with some pressure), the skin in that area would turn red, swollen, warm and tender. This response is termed as inflammation.
When the lining of the stomach faces any kind of irritant or injury, it responds in a similar fashion and the resultant condition is gastritis. Gastritis may not be serious for most people but it can develop into a serious condition if neglected. Hence prompt treatment is warranted in any and all cases.
The condition can have an acute onset due to some peculiar triggering factors. However, in a large number of cases, it tends to run a chronic course with periods of ups and downs in terms of symptoms.
Causes of Gastritis
How did the heartburn happen?
Numerous things can trigger gastritis and it has been associated with several things right from medical conditions to medicines to habits, etc. The primary mechanism by which this occurs is damage to the ‘protective mucus barrier’ of the stomach. This mucus barrier prevents the acid from coming in direct contact with the stomach lining. When the barrier is damaged, the acid causes the lining of the stomach to be inflamed.
Any of the following can act as a trigger for gastritis:
- Helicobacter pylori infection: The H. Pylori is a bacterium which is supposed to affect almost half of the world population though the symptoms may not be seen in every affected person. The bacteria break down the mucus lining which results in gastritis. In certain cases, it may also cause ulcerations in the stomach lining.
- Drugs: Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (which include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), steroids, cancer medicines, iron supplements, etc. can induce damage to the stomach lining.
- After medical procedures such as radiation treatment, surgery on the stomach, any other major surgery, etc.
- Infections such as tuberculosis, syphilis; viral, bacterial, fungal (yeast infection) infections, parasites, etc.
- Stress can be one of the major causes of gastritis – especially in cases of severe and/or prolonged stress
- Major traumatic injury or burns
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Autoimmunity – here the body’s defense attack the body’s own cells (in this case the stomach lining)
- Pernicious anemia
- Chronic reflux of the bile juice from the intestine
- Other medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, some connective tissue disorders, kidney failure, liver failure, etc. are also associated with gastritis
Symptoms of Gastritis
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
If you have any of these smoky presentations, its time you evaluate yourself for gastritis… in all probability your stomach may actually be on fire!
Listed here are some of the commonest features of gastritis:
- Burning pain or vague, gnawing pain in the upper abdomen that may get better or worse after eating
- Pain may sometimes be located in the left upper portion of the abdomen and in the back. The pain may seem to travel right through the abdomen to the back.
- Occasionally there may be sharp, stabbing, cutting pain
- Fullness in the abdomen after eating
- Loss of appetite
- Some loss of weight in the long run due to decrease appetite
- Bloated sensation in the abdomen
- Blood in the vomit or black stools may indicate bleeding in the stomach and should not be neglected
The presentation may vary in acute and chronic cases. Acute cases usually present with increased severity of burning and can result in nausea and vomiting. Chronic cases generally have a gradual loss of appetite, fullness after eating, dull pain or no pain at all.
All symptoms that last for more than a week should definitely be reported to the doctor and treatment sought promptly.
Diagnosis of Gastritis
Detect that dyspepsia…
The first thing that will tell your physician ‘It’s probably gastritis’ is your medical history, lifestyle and the medicines you are taking. Further, investigations are required to confirm the diagnosis but some tests may even be performed to rule out any other conditions that may mimic gastritis:
- Blood cell count (to rule out anemia due to occult bleeding)
- Breath test for H. pylori test
- Stool test (for blood in stools)
- Gastrointestinal endoscopy: In this test the doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) with a tiny camera at one end into your stomach and upper part of intestine to visualize any inflammation or ulceration. If any part is found suspicious, the doctor may take a small biopsy from the same.
- Barium meal: The patient is asked to drink a fluid containing barium and thereafter X-rays are taken to detect any abnormalities in the stomach.
Self Care for Gastritis
Getting around with gastritis…
Taking control of your health is the first step towards successful treatment of any condition. We provide you here with some easy-to-follow steps that will help you deal with gastritis. These have been derived from our experience of successfully treating cases over the last 35 years at Dr. Batra's. Our nutritionists advise this
- Increase your fluid intake i.e. plenty of water, fruit juices, juices of vegetables such as carrots, spinach, raw potatoes, beet and cucumber juice
- Drink peppermint tea 20 minutes before meals to improve digestion
- Avoid eating broccoli, cabbage and cabbage family, collards, and strawberries
- Avoid anything that produces food intolerance for you
- Avoid colas and other aerated cold drinks
- Avoid aspirin as far as possible - ask your physician to prescribe an alternative drug
- Eat in moderation, at regular intervals – small and frequent meals can help you deal better with gastritis
- Avoid irritants such as alcohol, tea, and coffee, hot and spicy food
- Maintain a healthy weight – control your weight if you are overweight because obesity tends to worsen gastritis
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid foods that worsen your symptoms especially condiments, red meat, excess of sugar, refined flour, strong spirits and beverages, excess of fats
- Contact your physician to know alternative medications if your current medicines are the cause of the problem
- Stop smoking
- Take effective steps to control stress
- Be regular in your treatment
Soothing relief from burning pain…
At Dr. Batra's, we have successfully helped a large number of patients to get rid of their gastritis with holistic treatment. In the last 35 years, our proficiency and expertise has come as a timely aid to many suffering people and helped them tide over their problems effectively, gently and safely.
Homeopathy in general has very good scope in the treatment of gastritis. Whether the condition is acute or chronic in nature, homeopathy can effectively soothe the burning pain and other annoying symptoms associated with the disease. Arresting the progress of the condition is another important step that can be achieved with homeopathic treatment.
Even in cases where the disease has progressed to development of ulceration in the stomach, the medication can assist in safely healing the ulcers over a period of time as well as preventing their recurrence.
In general, the treatment provides with improved health to the patients and better capability to deal with stress which is one of the common triggers for this condition. Not to mention that it is without any side effects whatsoever.
All in all, homeopathy definitely has lots to offer to every case of gastritis and early treatment is suggested for all cases.