Gastritis

Symptoms of gastritis include indigestion, a tummy pain and feeling or being sick.

Common causes of gastritis include bacterial infection, regular use of painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen, stress and too much alcohol.

Changing your diet and how you eat can help with gastritis. Medicines like antacids can help ease the symptoms.

Many people with gastritis caused by a bacterial infection do not have any symptoms.

In other cases, gastritis can cause:

  • indigestion
  • gnawing or burning stomach pain
  • feeling and being sick
  • feeling full after eating

If the stomach lining has been worn away (erosive gastritis) and exposed to stomach acid, symptoms may include pain, bleeding or a stomach ulcer.

The symptoms of gastritis may come on suddenly and severely (acute gastritis) or last a long time (chronic gastritis).

Gastritis is usually caused by 1 of the following:

  • an H. pylori bacterial infection
  • excessive use of cocaine or alcohol
  • smoking
  • regularly taking aspirin, ibuprofen or other painkillers classed as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • a stressful event – such as a bad injury or critical illness, or major surgery
  • less commonly, an autoimmune reaction – when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own cells and tissues (in this case, the stomach lining)

H. pylori gastritis

Many people become infected with H. pylori bacteria and do not realise it. These stomach infections are common and do not usually cause symptoms.

But an H. pylori infection can sometimes cause recurring bouts of indigestion, as the bacteria can cause inflammation of the stomach lining.

This sort of gastritis is more common in older age groups and is usually the cause of chronic (persistent) non-erosive cases.

An H. pylori stomach infection is usually lifelong, unless it's treated with eradication therapy.

Treatment aims to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach to relieve symptoms, allowing the stomach lining to heal and to tackle any underlying cause.

You may be able to treat gastritis yourself, depending on the cause.

Easing symptoms

  • antacids – these over-the-counter medicines neutralise the acid in your stomach, which can provide rapid pain relief
  • histamine 2 (H2) blockers – these medicines decrease acid production and are available to buy from your pharmacist and on prescription
  • proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole – these medicines decrease acid production even more effectively than H2 blockers

Some low-dose PPIs can be bought from your pharmacist without a prescription.

You'll need a prescription from a GP for stronger doses.

Treating H. pylori infection

If an H. pylori infection is the cause of your gastritis, you'll need to take a course of antibiotics alongside a proton pump inhibitor.

If you think the cause of your gastritis is repeated use of NSAID painkillers, try switching to a different painkiller that's not in the NSAID class, such as paracetamol.

You may want to talk to a GP about this.

Also consider:


Page last reviewed: 20-05-2019
Next review due:20-05-2022

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