GASTRITIS: CAN IT BE TREATED AT HOME?
Stomach ache is the common problem due to gas, bloating, acidity and indigestion. Gastritis as the name suggests; ITIS which signifies the inflammation of the gastric region which involves the swelling of the mucosal lining of the stomach. This broad spectrum of the entity that induces inflammation of the mucosal lining of the stomach leading to the swelling of the abdomen. This may be due to various triggering factors and causes that may lead to inflammation and swelling of the stomach. Gastritis can have no symptoms which means it can be asymptomatic or have symptoms ranging from mild, moderate to severe. This can be of two types depending on the severity and duration :
- Acute gastritis
- Chronic gastritis
The stomach is the J shaped organ present in the abdomen for digestion of food. The stomach secretes some gastric juices and hydrochloric acid. This digestion would further proceed with absorption and assimilation of nutrients in the gut. Excessive secretion of the gastric juices by parietal cells of the stomach can lead to excessive acidity. The stomach helps to make acid and enzymes that help in breaking the swallowed food mixed with gastric juice and hydrochloric acid. The epithelium of the stomach is coated with the gastric mucosa secreted by special glands. It also has the protective mechanism functioning by secreting mucous but sometimes this mucosal layers of the stomach get inflamed resulting in swelling and acidity of the stomach and protective mechanism dysfunction.
Causes of gastritis :
- Erratic food timings
- Spicy food
Helicobactor Pylori infection: The bacteria name H.pylori can cause stomach and duodenal ulcer due to excessive gastric secretion in response to stress. H . Pylori are like termites in the mucosal lining of the stomach. It passes from person to person through contaminated food or water. Infection can be treated by bacteria-killing drugs called antibiotics.
Some allergic and autoimmune disease conditions like pernicious anaemia: Here the immune system goes after the body’s healthy tissue in the stomach lining leading to damaging of the mucosal layer of the stomach and causing dysfunction.
Long term use of medications: Erosive gastritis which wears away the gastric lining of the stomach. the most common cause of the erosive gastritis is the long terms use of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Antiinflammatory drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen. When you stop taking these drugs the condition goes away. Your doctor might recommend reducing the dose or switching to other class of pain medication. This type is especially seen in patients suffering from pain like leg pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain in the body where they are dependant on such painkillers
Although stress and spicy food don’t cause gastritis they can make symptoms worse.
Signs and Symptoms of gastritis:
- Upset stomach
- Abdominal bloating
- Burning feeling in the stomach
- Retrosternal burning in between meals and at night
- Loss of appetite
- Sour and bitter eructations
- Discomfort in the abdomen
- Vomiting of blood
- Black tarry stools
Watch for ulcers: Gastritis can lead to ulceration of the stomach over time. Some of the symptoms will include pain in the belly button or in the epigastric region which is the pit of the stomach which starts in between meals or at night. Antacids would briefly stop the pain which comes and goes lasts up to a minute to hours.
Stomach Cancer: Signs to watch for a long time problem of gastritis for a long time inflammation may lead to stomach cancer vomiting may contain blood.
Sign and Symptoms of stomach cancer:
- Changes in the bowel movement
- Unusual bleeding
- Sudden loss of weight
- Loss of blood in stool and vomiting
- Loose stools
- Constant abdominal pain
Usually, symptoms would help in diagnosis. Detailed case consultation with personal and medical history with physical evaluation will help a physician to form the correct picture for diagnosis. However chronic gastritis would call for investigations to confirm the diagnosis or to prevent further complications by following a definite line of treatment.
Upper Gastric Endoscopy: A long tube with a tiny camera at the end is inserted through the mouth to check the interior of the stomach lining and the gastric mucosa for erosion as well as for the ulcer or growth of stomach polyp which may lead to chronic heartburn.
Blood test: The physician may advise a blood test to check for anaemia in case there is the loss of the blood through vomiting or loose stools.
Screening for H.pylori infection is equally important to check for these bacteria which affect the mucosal lining of the stomach.
Remember Untreated gastritis can lead to the chronic problem depending on the severity and duration of symptoms which could lead to chronic ulcer formation and cancer of the stomach in the long run. Timely diagnosis and accurate tests are required to take care of gastritis in initial stages to avoid complications which could lead to surgery.
While there are instances where medical treatment is necessary to treat gastritis, many people find that they can manage symptoms on their own.
Not all medicines and treatment would work at home. You need to do some research work to find out what works for you best. Palliating is not just the solution with antacids and Proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers but finding a solution with the treatment of the root cause and correcting the lifestyle modification would help in the treatment of gastritis in long run and can save your stomach from the complications like ulceration and cancer. There are many over the counter (OTC) drugs like antacids and Proton Pump Inhibitors and H2 Blockers which are available. But they can cause serious side effects which just giving you relief for a few hours and the symptoms of gastritis can reoccur again leading to discomfort.
Ease your discomfort with few tips by following it at home:
1) Diet: A professional approach towards eating regime which acts as a key element in achieving a successful diet. Check what you eat. A well balanced nutritious diet with normal body weight is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are no specific diet that can be followed but prevention of certain foods can help. If you decide to restrict certain foods like some people feel better by restricting heavy oily meals, high intake of sugar or artificial sweeteners, excess of spicy food or by restricting milk and dairy products. Make sure that you choose correct substitutes for the same. A nutritious diet, high in calories and protein along with vitamins minerals and an iron supplement is needed. It will also include some aerobic exercise with some activities to stay fit and stay refreshed to beat every day with a positive frame of mind
2) Stay hydrated: It’s important to flush out various toxins from the body to reduce the toxicity. A clean healthy body can be achieved by removing the toxins regularly from the body and enriching it with good absorbable supplements which helps you to fight with immunity. Transform into a new healthy toxin-free body with a good amount of vitamins and minerals. A healthy gut absorbs well water as well as nutrients from food which gives a classic appearance of a healthy lifestyle as your immunity stay stronger and you are not prone to infections and allergies
3) Stress is a normal reaction to daily problems but it becomes unhealthy when it hampers your day to day functioning. Stress is a causative factor for many diseases affecting various systems like cardiovascular problems such as hypertension, endocrinological disturbances like hormonal imbalance to gut disorders like Irritable bowel syndrome, to psychological disorders like Anxiety neurosis and panic disorders and headache with a migraine.
How well stress is managed is important not only from the physical aspect but also on the mental and emotional level. To work efficiently and achieve a better outcome, we must handle stress well with a calm mind.
4) Do not self medicate: There are many medicines available over the counter. do not self medicate because you are just reliving the condition not treating it from the root cause. This would just lead to chronicity of gastritis causing prolonged duration and increasing the severity of the condition.
5) Go for Mindful eating: Limiting acidic foods and taking smaller meals is the key solution to gastritis. Certain lifestyle changes like exercising regularly will also help with indigestion and proper metabolism of the gastrointestinal tract.
6) Probiotics: Check what you eat foods that contain good bacteria called probiotic can help by fighting the H.pylori infection.
7) Eat fibre rich diet: Apple, pear, oatmeal are high in fibre. They decrease the amount of acid in the stomach that eases out the symptoms of gastritis like acidity and bloating with pain. 
8) Vitamin A in carrots spinach and sweet potatoes diet shrinks the stomach ulcer that also helps in prevention of erosive gastritis which can save your mucosal lining of the stomach
9) Milk: This the food which can worsen your condition of gastritis as it prompts the stomach to produce some acid leading to the chronicity of the problem by increasing the severity of the problem
10) Alcohol: If you are prone to gastritis, Limit the intake of alcohol. Research has shown that alcohol irritates and damages the digestive tract
11) Fatty food: Deep-fried food may lead to belly bloating and abdominal pain. Take a break from fatty food. Remember that they take a long time to digest which may lead to indigestion.
12) Spicy food: This is an irritant to the stomach which cause the mucosal lining to inflamed and lead to erosion with symptoms like heartburn or retrosternal burning with discomfort in the abdomen.
13) Caffeine: Cut down on caffeine drinks like tea and coffee which causes the digestive tract dysfunction and leads to more acidity
14) Avoid carbonated drinks: Avoid gaseous drinks which leads to immense bloating and flatulent dyspepsia of the stomach. This is the common advice given to the patients by doctors as a health professional.
15) Tumeric: Take in turmeric with water which contains active ingredient like curcumin which has medicinal properties and can reduce severe inflammation. It has therapeutic potential properties.
16) Gastroprotective flavinoids compounds: There are various foods like compounds that can help the body against H pylori infection rather than taking antibiotics and antacids which just reduced the acidity in the body temporarily but can lead to reoccurrence and relapse of gastritis because of this bacteria
17) Honey: Honey is a natural food that contains powerful anti-oxidants against the H.Pylori infection which may help soothe the symptoms of ulcers. Kindly be cautious that you do not suffer from diabetes when consuming honey. It has anti-inflammatory properties which may help in reducing the symptoms of gastritis. Moreover its natural sweetener
18) Aloe vera: Gel extracted from aloe vera leaf is natural and gentle without any side effects and helps in controlling the mucous secreting glands of the stomach thus helping in the prevention of ulcer. It has anti-bacterial properties as well.
19) Fruits diet and whole grains: A vitamin-rich diet in polyphenols will help in the long run to heal the ulcer formation due to excessive secretion of acid from the stomach
20) Exercise: Exercising is good for health and help in digestion of all the nutrients from food and also helps improve the metabolic age which takes care of abdominal bloating and flatulent dyspepsia which is indigestion. Go walk daily to combat the symptoms of gastritis.
Be vigilant: Gastritis does not stop at abdominal pain. If left untreated and not taken care in initial stages of mild gastritis can lead to ulcers with long term medications which are a signal for problems of cancer. It is important to note that in most cases it remains unclear as gastritis symptoms such as mild heartburn can go unnoticed. These natural remedies along with a conventional line of treatment with lifestyle modifications would reduce the dependency on the medication which are also harmful to the lining of the stomach and which can further aggravate the problem. Those suffering from gastritis can seek medical help if the symptoms go beyond control. Relapse and reoccurrence are very common in the condition of gastritis. But following these twenty tips and home remedies will help you to take care of complications of gastritis and chronicity of the symptoms.