If the gastric mucosa becomes inflamed, it is called gastritis. There are two different types: acute and chronic gastritis, although the acute is rare. In both cases, inflammatory swelling of the gastric mucosa or even ulcerous mucosal damage develops. As a result of this damage, the aggressive gastric acid can further attack the mucous membrane. This leads to permanent gastric ulcer (ulcer).
Gastric bleeding as a possible consequence
Depending on the cause and extent of mucosal damage, gastric bleeding may result, which may be manifested by vomiting blood and / or tarry stools. If this is the case, acute gastritis can also become a life-threatening disease. However, acute gastritis usually heals spontaneously without treatment.
Gastritis: often diagnosed
Frequently, gastritis is diagnosed in upper abdominal complaints of unclear cause. The "suspected gastritis" can be confirmed only by the microscopic examination of gastric mucosal cells. It should also be noted that, contrary to popular belief, gastritis often causes little or no pain.
The causes are not yet conclusively clarified. A trigger factor is certainly psychosocial stress. Apparently, the personality also plays a role in the pathogenesis. Many gastritis patients suffer from feelings of guilt, frustration and constant conflict.
The most common causes of acute gastritis are:
- excessive alcohol consumption or alcohol poisoning
- Infections of the gastrointestinal tract (gastroenteritis)
- Painkillers and cortisone medications
- Helicobacter pylori infection (bacterial gastritis)
- heavy and complicated operations
- Chemical burns due to alkalis or acids
- Patients with circulatory shock, for example after:
- massive bleeding or burns
- by viral (including herpes simplex virus gastritis) and bacterial infections
- in tuberculosis) or bacterial toxins
- through poisons or food poisoning
Alcohol stimulates the production of stomach acid. In this way, a short-term overacidification of the stomach may arise. In addition, alcohol attacks the protective layer of the gastric mucosa, so that the hyperacidity promotes inflammation of the mucous membrane. Certain pain medications are also able to attack the protective layer of the gastric mucosa and cause inflammation. However, not all patients get gastric mucosal irritation.
Helicobacter pylori as a cause
In addition, a variety of pathogens can cause gastritis or even gastroenteritis (= gastrointestinal inflammation, concurrent mucosal inflammation of the stomach, small intestine and possibly large intestine). In addition, parasites and viruses can lead to infectious gastritis.
Very important is the bacterium "Helicobacter pylori". However, this has only become known in recent years. This pathogen can survive through certain mechanisms in the acidic gastric juice, pass through the mucosal wall and cause both acute and chronic gastritis. The source of infection is unclear. However, it has been proven that this pathogen can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy.
The gastritis may be especially pronounced after severe and complicated operations or burn victims. In both situations, the body is at maximum stress and the stomach is particularly susceptible to irritation of the gastric mucosa.