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Acute Gastritis

Last updated March 30, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP


Microscopic pathology image of a Stomach biopsy with active gastritis showing Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) in High density on Immuno Histochemical stain.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Erosive Gastritis
  • Erosive Gastropathy (Disorder)
  • Idiopathic Erosive/Hemorrhagic Gastritis (Disorder)

What is Acute Gastritis? (Definition/Background Information)

  • Gastritis is a very common stomach disorder, caused by inflammation and irritation, which can lead to erosion of the stomach lining.
  • Acute Gastritis is a form of gastritis, which is caused by various factors, such as:
    • Intake of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Bacterial and viral infections
    • And even cancers
  • The inflammation occurs rapidly and hence the term ‘acute’ is used. Acute Gastritis, which can affect any individual, is characterized by abdominal pain, bleeding, or other gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, and indigestion
  • The treatment measures are generally symptomatic and involve the use of medications, with avoidance of certain types of food. The prognosis varies with the severity of the condition, but is generally good

There are several different types of gastritis and these include:

  • Acute Gastritis
  • Chronic Gastritis
  • Chemical Gastritis
  • Infectious Gastritis

Who gets Acute Gastritis? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • All individuals, irrespective of age and sex, are susceptible to Acute Gastritis, regardless of the underlying cause
  • No racial or ethnic predilection is observed

What are the Risk Factors for Acute Gastritis? (Predisposing Factors)

Acute Gastritis risk factors may include:

  • Use of aspirin
  • Use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or corticosteroids
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Consumption of foods with high levels of nitrites and nitrates (chemicals found at high concentrations in smoked foods)
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Major surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Respiratory failure

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Acute Gastritis? (Etiology)

Acute Gastritis is a sudden inflammation of the stomach lining. The following may be the possible causes of the condition:

  • Use of certain medications, like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Consumption of alcohol (Alcoholic Gastritis)
  • Infections caused by the following pathogens:
    • Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes H. pylori Gastritis
    • Cytomegalovirus (CMV Gastritis)
    • Herpes simplex virus (Herpes Gastritis)
  • Consuming toxic chemicals
  • Extreme stress that may be due to a major surgery, hospitalization, burns, etc.
  • Food poisoning
  • Overeating
  • Bile reflux: A disorder that causes the backflow of bile into the stomach, from the small intestine (forming Bile Gastritis)

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Acute Gastritis?

The signs and symptoms of Acute Gastritis include:

  • Dark stools (melena)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling of distention, abdominal bloating
  • Burning feeling in the stomach in between meals
  • Hiccups
  • Nausea, vomiting, and indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting blood

How is Acute Gastritis Diagnosed?

The following exams and tests may be performed to diagnose Acute Gastritis:

  • Complete physical exam with a thorough medical history evaluation
  • Complete blood count (CBC), which may reveal anemia due to blood loss
  • Stool test for bleeding
  • Upper GI and small bowel x-ray series: A set of x-rays taken to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. This may reveal an ulcer
  • Upper endoscopy or EGD (esophago gastro-duodenoscopy): A thin tube with a camera is inserted into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum to observe any abnormal findings. A biopsy of the stomach can be performed at this time, which will be then examined by a pathologist

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Acute Gastritis?

The complications of Acute Gastritis may include:

  • Severe loss of blood, causing severe anemia
  • Stomach cancer (both gastric carcinomas and gastric lymphomas)
  • Weight loss

How is Acute Gastritis Treated?

The treatment of Acute Gastritis depends on the underlying cause.

  • Antacids and other medications to neutralize stomach acids are generally recommended for symptomatic treatment of the condition
  • Medications to decrease the gastric acid production, such as proton pump inhibitors, are generally considered for worsening symptoms
  • The physician may recommend the avoidance of hot and spicy foods
  • For gastritis caused by H. pylori infection, antibiotics along with acid-blocking drugs are recommended; triple therapy for H. pylori
  • Elimination of irritating foods from the diet, helps in treating gastritis

How can Acute Gastritis be Prevented?

  • Controlling the risk factors is one way of preventing Acute Gastritis
  • Avoiding or limiting the use of NSAIDs, alcohol, and smoking, could help prevent the condition

What is the Prognosis of Acute Gastritis? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • The prognosis depends on the severity of gastritis and its underlying cause. Severe gastritis has much worse prognosis, when compared to mild gastritis
  • However, in general, Acute Gastritis often improves rapidly with treatment

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Acute Gastritis:

  • Autoimmune gastritis is an immune-based, non-infectious inflammation of the stomach (gastritis), as a result of antibodies (auto- or self- antibodies) produced in the body, for unknown reason
  • Chronic gastritis refers to inflammation in the stomach lining that persists for a long time. In many cases, Acute Gastritis over a long period of time becomes chronic gastritis

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 3, 2014
Last updated: March 30, 2018