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Gastritis Causes and Risk Factors

Gastritis Causes and Risk Factors
Causes and Risk Factors

What causes gastritis?
Gastritis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the stomach lining. There are many possible causes of this disorder, including an infection, an irritant, an autoimmune disorder, or a backup of bile into the stomach. The stomach lining may be eroded, or "eaten away," leading to sores (peptic ulcers) in the stomach or small intestine. If not treated, these ulcers may bleed.  This is often the result of infection by the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers. However, other factors such as traumatic injury, the regular use of certain pain relievers, or alcohol abuse can contribute to gastritis.

It usually develops when the stomach's protective layer becomes weakened or damaged. A mucus-lined barrier protects the walls of the stomach from acids that help digest food. Weaknesses in this barrier allow digestive juices to damage and inflame the stomach lining. There are many causes of gastritis. Various factors can contribute to or trigger gastritis. The most common are:

Alcohol - Alcohol can irritate and erode the stomach lining, making the stomach more vulnerable to digestive juices. In addition, alcohol increases the production of hydrochloric acid, which can damage the gastric lining. On the other hand, excessive alcohol use is more likely to cause acute gastritis.

Autoimmune disorders - The body can attack cells in the stomach (such as pernicious anemia). Called autoimmune gastritis, this rare condition occurs when the body attacks the cells of the stomach lining. This produces a reaction by the immune system that can wear away at the stomach's protective barrier. Autoimmune gastritis is more common in those afflicted with other autoimmune disorders, including Hashimoto's disease, Addison's disease and type 1 diabetes. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can also result in autoimmune gastritis.

Bacterial infection - People infected with H. pylori commonly experience chronic gastritis. Half the world's population may be infected with this bacterium, which passes from person to person. But the majority of those infected don't experience any complications. In some, H. pylori may break down the stomach's inner protective coating, causing changes in the lining. It isn't clear why some people experience complications from H. pylori infection and others don't. However, doctors believe vulnerability to the bacterium could be inherited or caused by lifestyle factors like smoking and high stress levels. Medications such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also erode protection in the stomach.

Bile reflux disease - Bile , a fluid that helps digest fats, is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When released from the gallbladder, bile travels to the small intestine through a series of thin tubes. Normally, a ring-like sphincter muscle (pyloric valve) prevents bile from flowing into the stomach from the small intestine. But if the valve doesn't work properly, or was removed because of surgery, bile can flow into the stomach, leading to inflammation and chronic gastritis.

Erosion - Loss of the protective layer of the stomach lining. Eating or drinking caustic or corrosive substances (such as poisons) or excess gastric acid secretion (such as from stress) can cause gastritis.

Major surgery

Other diseases and conditions -Gastritis may be connected with other conditions including HIV/AIDS, Crohn's disease, parasitic infections, some connective tissue disorders, and liver or kidney failure.

Regular use of pain relievers- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can cause both acute gastritis and chronic gastritis. Regular use or over-dosing of these drugs may reduce a key substance that helps preserve the protective lining of the stomach. Stomach problems are less likely if NSAIDs are only taken occasionally.


Stress- Severe stress resulting from major surgery, traumatic injury, burns or severe infections can cause acute gastritis.

Viral infection - Especially in those with weak immune systems.

Zollinger-Elison Syndrome - This is a condition that is characterized by hyper production of hydrochloric acid. During Zollinger-Elison syndrome, the acidity of the stomach juice increases and the stomach lining is easily damaged.

Risk factors
There are certain risk factors that make it more likely that a person develops gastritis. It is important to know that risk factors may not be a direct cause of a particular disease, but seem to be associated with its development in some way. The most common factors that may increase the risk of gastritis include:

H. pylori infection- Infection with H. pylori bacteria is the most significant risk factor for gastritis. Though it's thought to occur in half the world's population, H. pylori infection is more common in developing countries. Most people exhibit no signs or symptoms of H. pylori infection.

Regular use of aspirin or other NSAIDs- Those who regularly take aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke, are at risk of developing gastritis. The same is true if taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers for arthritis or another chronic condition. Long-term use of aspirin and other NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation and bleeding.

Older age- Older adults are at an increased risk of gastritis since the stomach lining thins with age and older adults are more likely to have H. pylori infection or autoimmune disorders than younger people.

Gastritis can occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or it may develop slowly over time (chronic gastritis). But how can you tell these symptoms apart? And when should you seek medical help for gastritis? More on how to identify symptoms of gastritis next.

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Tags: autoimmune gastritis, gastritis, Autoimmune disorders, bacterial infection, autoimmune disorder, anti-inflammatory, stomach problems, small intestine, Crohn's Disease, kidney failure, stress levels, complications, Heart Attack, medications, infections, intestine, bacterial, Arthritis, ibuprofen, infection
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