Gastritis - a common problem for students
Gastritis is an inflammation or redness of the protective lining of the stomach due to over production of acid in the stomach or damage to the stomach lining. Without treatment or reduction of the causal factors, the inflammation can worsen, resulting in a stomach ulcer (a hole in the stomach wall).
It used to be thought that ulcers were caused by stress, alcohol, smoking and spicy food; however, this now considered an over-simplification. In 1982 it was discovered that a bacteria, called helicobacter pylori, loves the acid environment of the stomach to set up a permanent home. The bacteria can destroy the protective lining of the stomach, causing stomach acid to seep through to the unprotected tissue. This can cause bleeding, infections and hinder the movement of food through the digestive tract.
While up to two-third of the worlds population (sometimes higher in countries where sanitation is not ideal), are infected with the bacteria, the majority will not experience symptoms or problems. However, there are a number of easy ways to reduce your risk of developing severe gastritis, which include:
Use paracetamol instead of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen, when moments of pain (e.g. headache) occur. NSAIDs oppose the prostaglandin hormone in the body which is needed to produce the mucus that protects the stomach lining.
Eat regular meals and maintain a balanced diet
Quit smoking - cigarette smoke reduces blood supply and the ability of the stomach to heal itself. Similarly, the nicotine in cigarettes actually increases gastric acid production!
Reduce your caffeine intake (i.e. coffee, energy drinks etc.), as it increases your gastric acid production
De-stress - Ongoing stress and worry can cause a breakdown of the protective layer of stomach lining.
How We Care
Our doctors will work with you to discover what factors in your life may be causing your gastritis, and may prescribe effective medication that can be used to provide temporary relief by reducing stomach acid production.
If simple measures fail to relive your gastritis, our doctors may organise tests to check whether the germ helicobacter is present in your stomach. If your stomach is making a home for the helicobacter germ, our doctors can prescribe a course of “triple therapy”, a combination of medications to kill the helicobacter germ and reduce the amount of acid in your stomach.
For severe cases that don’t respond to "triple therapy", our doctors will arrange a referral to a specialist gastroenterologist for a test called a “gastroscopy” or “endoscopy”. The specialist takes a look inside your stomach and obtains a biopsy of the lining of inflamed areas to investigate whether the are other factors causing your severe gastritis.
If you are troubled by persistent stomach pains, sometimes with nausea or vomiting and belching, make an appointment with one of our doctors.
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