What Is An Ulcer and Gastritis?
Gastritis and an ulcer are conditions that affect the stomach and small intestine, and they share many symptoms, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss.
There are many differences, though. Gastritis and an ulcer both inflame the stomach lining, but gastritis is a general inflammation, and an ulcer is a patch of eroded stomach lining. Though gastritis and an ulcer share symptoms, an intense, localized pain is much more common with an ulcer, and an ulcer also carries the risk of bleeding, cancer and eventual stomach perforation. Doctors use a variety of techniques to diagnose each specific ailment, and the methods of treatment vary as well.
Gastritis can be caused by a variety of reasons irritation due to chronic vomiting, excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress, or the use of certain medications or other anti-inflammatory drugs. It may also be caused by any of the following bacteria's and infections:
• Bile reflux: A backflow of bile into the stomach from the bile tract (that connects to the liver and gallbladder).
• Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori): A bacteria that lives in the mucous lining of the stomach.
• Infections caused by bacteria and viruses
• Pernicious anemia: A form of anemia that occurs when the stomach lacks a naturally occurring substance needed to properly absorb and digest
If gastritis is left untreated, it can lead to a severe loss in blood, or in some cases increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
• A bacterium. A common cause of ulcers is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. H. pylori bacteria commonly live and multiply within the mucous layer that covers and protects tissues that line the stomach and small intestine.
• Regular use of pain relievers. Certain over-the-counter and prescription pain medications can irritate or inflame the lining of your stomach and small intestine. These medications include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox), ketoprofen and others. Peptic ulcers are more common in older adults who take pain medications frequently, such as might be common in people with osteoarthritis.
• Other medications. Other prescription medications that can also lead to ulcers include medications used to treat osteoporosis called bisphosphonates (Actonel, Fosamax, others).
• Bacterial infection
• Regular use of pain relievers
• Older age
• Excessive alcohol use
• Bile reflux disease
• Your own body attacking cells in your stomach
• Other diseases and conditions. Gastritis may be associated with other medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease and parasitic infections.
•Have uncontrolled stress. Although stress alone isn't a cause of peptic ulcers, it is a contributing factor.
•Nausea or recurrent upset stomach
•Burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach between meals or at night
•Loss of appetite
•Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material
•Black, tarry stools
•Dyspepsia or indigestion
•Bloating and fullness
•Mild nausea (may be relieved by vomiting)
•Belching and regurgitation
•Feeling very hungry 1 to 3 hours after eating
How We Can Help
Helicobacter Pylori Testing
Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori) is the bacterium (germ) responsible for most ulcers and many cases of stomach inflammation (chronic gastritis).
What Happens During the Test?
During the test, you will be asked to exhale into a balloon-like bag. The air you breathe into this bag is tested to provide a basis for comparison (called a baseline sample). You will then be asked to drink a small amount of a pleasant lemon-flavored solution. Fifteen minutes after drinking the solution, a second breath sample will be taken. The air you breathe into this bag is tested for an increase in carbon dioxide.
After The Test
• Your breath samples are sent to the laboratory where they are tested.
• You may resume your normal activities.
• You may resume your normal diet and medicines unless you have other tests that require dietary restrictions.
• Your doctor will notify you as soon as your laboratory test results are available.
• If the test indicates that you do have a H. pylori infection, it can be treated with antibiotics.
• One month after antibiotic treatment your doctor might order a repeat breath test to make sure the infection has been cured.