Inflamed Stomach

Tips on Treating an Inflamed Stomach

More common than many believe, gastritis, or an inflamed stomach lining is generally not a serious condition.  It can, however, be quite painful and create uncomfortable symptoms if not treated properly and in a timely manner.

Eating is a necessary function for any living creature.  Digesting the food we eat is a complex process that, in short, involves the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach and the intestines.  The stomach plays a vital role in digestion by producing a combination of acids which destroys dangerous forms of bacteria and germs that can be found in virtually any food.  These acids, or gastric juice, are manufactured in the lining of the stomach.  The strong muscular walls of the stomach then contort and agitate the gastric juice and the food that has been consumed together; effectively breaking the food down into smaller pieces in order to send it off to its next digestive destination, the small intestine.  From there, the now souplike concoction travels through the large intestine.  Throughout this process, nutrients, vitamins and fluids are divided; those needed by the body are kept and sent off to areas where they can be used and all other material is excreted from the body as waste.  Because of the complexity of the digestion system, any deviance caused by a problem in one organ affects all of the others.

Gastritis, or an inflamed stomach lining, occurs when bacteria in the stomach causes an infection.  The inflammation can have any number of causes, often self-inflicted by the individual.   Some common causes are:

  • Smoking.  It not only increases the amount of acid produced by the stomach lining, but it also slows healing of the lining. 

  • Alcohol consumption.  Alcohol in small, infrequent amounts may have no affect whatsoever on the stomach.  Overuse of the drug, however, can actually deteriorate the very lining of the stomach, with the result being inflamed stomach and even bleeding of the lining.

  • Aspirin and other NSAIDS.  In many cases, these drugs can cause the stomach to become inflamed.  If they are taken to ease discomfort from an existing inflammation in the stomach, they only serve to make the condition worse.  An alternative is to take acetaminophen for pain and discomfort.

  • Unhealthy eating habits.  Some foods tend to create irritation in the stomachs of certain individuals; highly spiced foods, fatty foods and fried foods.  Avoiding these foods and any others that prove to be irritating can reduce symptoms.  Also, if overproduction of acid is an issue, eating smaller meals at more frequent intervals will help to counteract the condition.

Infections caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori affect nearly half the human population, and in some but not all individuals can cause complications when the lining of the stomach is eroded.  It is unclear as to why only a certain percentage of people experience this complication, but stress may be an indicator.  Some injuries, surgeries or traumas can also be the culprit.  Certain medical conditions, such as bile reflux disease, Crohn’s Disease, HIV/AIDS, liver or kidney malfunctions and parasitic infections are also known contributors. 

Treatment for an inflamed stomach lining will be determined once the cause for the condition is known.  For conditions that are caused by the use of the substances shown above, the first step will be to discontinue use, which may prove to be effective on its own.  H. pylori infections will be treated by eliminating the presence of the bacteria.  In some cases, medications may be needed to neutralize the natural acids and may include antacids or acid blockers.  Individuals can also help their own conditions by keeping a healthy weight, not smoking, managing stress and eating well. 

While most people experience bouts of gastritis from time to time, it is rarely a serious condition and can generally be easily relieved when recognized and treated correctly.

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