Gastritis is called quite different in course and origin of the disease of the gastric mucosa. Perhaps this is the most common diagnosis that people can make for themselves with problems with the digestive system. For some reason, it is customary to call any pain and heaviness in the stomach precisely gastritis. Let’s figure it out.
To begin with, gastritis can exist in two forms: acute and chronic. The second type is more common. Inflammation in chronic gastritis is limited to the mucous membrane. As a result of such a disease, the mass of functionally active glandular tissue decreases. In other words, atrophic gastritis develops.
Most researchers think that more than a third of the adult population suffers from chronic gastritis. At the same time, only 10–15% go to doctors.
So what is atrophic gastritis? This is a chronic disease that can lead to the disappearance of gastric parietal cells, decreased secretion of hydrochloric acid, vitamin B12 deficiency, and megaloblastic anemia.
With atrophic gastritis, the gastric mucosa sharply becomes thinner, and the glands atrophy.
Types of atrophic gastritis
In turn, atrophic gastritis is also divided into two main types depending on the source of the disease.
1. Bacterial atrophic gastritis
Occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to toxins released by Helicobacter pylori infection. This infection is generally the source of many stomach diseases, such as ulcers. Once in the body, bacteria begin to actively destroy the gastric mucosa. Studies prove that the bacterial form of the disease accounts for 80-90% of all gastritis.
2. Autoimmune atrophic gastritis
This type of gastritis is much less common. It occurs only in every tenth patient with gastritis. Such a disease proceeds in the same way as all autoimmune processes: the immune system perceives the cells of its body as foreign and produces antibodies.
See Also: What Is Chronic Gastritis?
According to another classification, the following types of atrophic gastritis are distinguished.
1. Focal atrophic gastritis
From the name, it should be understood that this gastritis develops in foci on the walls of the stomach. At the same time, undamaged areas begin to work more actively, as if compensating for the disadvantage.
This form of gastritis is characterized by heartburn, and pain immediately after eating. Heaviness and nausea can occur not only from overeating but also from light food. If gastritis is not treated, then the patient will gradually lose his appetite, the pain will increase, weight loss, and an increase in the acidity of the stomach.
2. Antral atrophic gastritis
With this disease, atrophy develops on the walls of the stomach in the antrum, i.e. where the stomach meets the duodenum.
In most cases, mucosal damage occurs first in this section, after which it begins to spread to the rest of the stomach. In this area, cells responsible for the production of mucus are localized. The main symptoms of gastritis of the antrum of the stomach:
- Loss of appetite;
- Belching with an unpleasant aftertaste;
- Heartburn after eating;
- Feeling of fullness, heaviness, bloating in the stomach;
- Diarrhea (sometimes constipation);
- Rumbling in the stomach;
- Intense spasmodic pain in the stomach that occurs half an hour – an hour after eating;
- General weakness;
Atrophic changes in this section lead to the cessation of mucus production, which can provoke an increase in the acidity of the stomach, which in turn will eventually lead to the development of a peptic ulcer. Scarring of ulcers causes narrowing of the pyloric region.
Stages of atrophic gastritis
The onset of the disease is characterized by damage to the fundus of the stomach.
The production of hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen, the enzymes responsible for digestion, is gradually disrupted.
Further, the situation becomes more complicated: any food, getting into the stomach, injures it. The area of atrophy depends on the degree of trauma.
Atrophic gastritis is one of the most dangerous forms of chronic gastritis. If complex treatment is not started in time, it can quickly develop into stomach cancer.
Atrophic gastritis occurs and progresses for a variety of reasons associated with exposure to the gastric mucosa. It is customary to divide them into two groups – exogenous (external) and endogenous (internal).
The main causes that are typical for all types of this disease remain unchanged. Among them:
- Spicy and spicy food, too cold or hot food, poorly chewed foods, spicy (physically) food (crackers, seeds, caramel, etc.).
- Chemicals and their vapors. When it comes into contact with the mucous membrane of the digestive system or the walls of the stomach, they provoke a reaction that harms the mucous membrane.
- Medical preparations. Long-term use of drugs can cause irritation and damage to the gastric mucosa. Increasing acidity.
- Bad habits: alcohol and smoking. This also includes carbonated drinks and coffee.
- Reflux is a process in which the contents of the stomach rise back into the esophagus (vomiting, nausea). Thus, dangerous acid damages the gastric mucosa.
- Bacterial infection. First of all, it is the main bacterium that causes Helicobacter pylori gastritis. Also, bacteria can cause a malfunction of the immune system, due to which immune cells begin to “eat” healthy ones.
Symptoms of atrophic gastritis
It is worth noting that at the initial stage it is very difficult to distinguish atrophic gastritis from ordinary malaise. However, with the appearance of signs of a more severe stage, you should immediately consult a doctor. Among these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite;
- Heaviness and rumbling in the abdomen after eating, bloating;
- Constant eructation (of air) with an unpleasant smell of rotten eggs;
- Then constipation, then diarrhea;
- Sometimes aching pain in the stomach after eating;
- B12 deficiency and, or iron deficiency anemia;
- Polished tongue;
- Weakness sweating fatigue;
- Weight loss in the later stages of the disease.
One of the features of atrophic gastritis is that it can either be accompanied by severe dull pain in the abdomen, immediately after eating or completely disappear without pain. Or so weak that it is invisible to humans.
Also, atrophic gastritis leads to a loss of vitamins in the body. Which in turn can be manifested by dryness and pallor, blurred vision, sweating, and increased bleeding of the gums.
Diagnosis of the disease
It is impossible to diagnose on your own. This should be done by a professional doctor. He will be able to determine the disease only after a thorough examination, and familiarization with the results of the tests.
First of all, the doctor prescribes a complete blood count and fecal analysis to detect immune cells and antibodies of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
A functional diagnosis of atrophic gastritis is also prescribed, with the help of which it is possible to determine how successfully the cells of the stomach secrete hydrochloric acid and enzymes. And also the enzymes themselves and their ability to help with digestion are being studied.
Treatment of atrophic gastritis of the stomach
First of all, as soon as the doctor finds out the causes of atrophic gastritis, it is necessary to prescribe proper nutrition. Establish a diet that will be good for the body as a whole, but will not negatively affect the functioning of the stomach. The diet is aimed at preventing mechanical trauma to the gastric mucosa, so food should be thoroughly crushed and taken warm. Fatty meats and fish, meat broths, mushrooms, spices, and foods that irritate the stomach lining should be excluded from the diet – sour, fried, spicy, pickled, smoked, and pickles are also removed. In addition, it is not recommended to eat carbonated drinks, coffee, alcohol, or easily digestible carbohydrates (chocolate, sweets, cakes, muffins).
Since the most common cause of any gastritis is the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, it is necessary to direct all efforts to destroy it. Today there are many drugs for this. But any of them should be used only after consulting a doctor.
If atrophic gastritis is running and its hydrochloric acid and enzymes cannot cope, then natural substitutes should be used to help them. They are also prescribed by a doctor.
For severe pain, the doctor may prescribe pain medication. Medicines are also sometimes prescribed to stimulate the muscles of the stomach.
Atrophic gastritis can be completely cured. But only under the supervision of doctors and with strict adherence to the treatment that they prescribed.
The main thing that must be observed for the prevention of acute gastritis is hygiene. Regular hand washing with soap and water. Thorough washing of fruits and vegetables. Priority to steam and boiled food. Less spicy, fatty, fried, soda, very salty and hard foods, etc.
The complex of primary prevention, which will strengthen the immune system, also includes:
- Healthy eating;
- Favorable living conditions and regular wet cleaning indoors;
- Physical activity;
- Normalization of sleep and daily routine.
In a word, diseases of the stomach can bring much more problems than it seems. Therefore, you should not ignore the first signs, but it is better to take preventive measures and take care of the health of the stomach in advance.