Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining. In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers in the lining of the stomach.

Acute gastritis comes on suddenly and lasts briefly.

Chronic gastritis is either longer lasting or recurrent.


Causes of gastritis include:

  • Drugs (such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications [NSAIDs], as well as steroid drugs)
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Severe illness, which can occur from:
    • Surgery
    • Burns
    • Liver or kidney disease
    • Shock
    • Respiratory failure
    • Head injury
    • Sepsis
  • Viral infection (for example, herpes or cytomegalovirus )
  • Bacterial infection, such as Helicobacter pylori
  • Fungal infection
  • Injury to the blood vessels that bring blood to the stomach
  • Excess production of stomach acid
  • Reflux of bile into the stomach, especially after surgery of the bile system
  • Crohn's disease
  • Atrophy of the lining of the stomach (atrophic gastritis), usually associated with older age
  • Pernicious anemia (causes autoimmune gastritis)
  • Syphilis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Radiation treatment
  • Swallowing caustic substances

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

  • Age 60 and older
  • NSAID use
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Diseases of the lymph system
  • Severe illness, such as can occur with:


Symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Indigestion
  • Burping
  • Hiccuping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloody or black vomit
  • Dark black, tarry stools


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

Tests may include:

  • Upper GI Series (Barium Swallow)—a series of x-rays of the upper digestive system taken after drinking a barium solution
  • Endoscopy—a thin, lighted tube inserted down the throat and into the stomach to examine the inside of the stomach
  • Biopsy—removal of a sample of stomach tissue to examine in a lab.
  • Blood, breath, or stool tests—to check for infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori

Upper GI Endoscopy

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Treatment may include:


These include:

  • Antacids
  • H 2 blockers
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Antibiotics to treat Helicobacter pylori infection


To help prevent gastritis:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Do not smoke
  • Ask your doctor if any of the medications you are taking might be irritating your stomach. You might need to change medications or you might need to take another medication to coat and protect your stomach lining.
  • If you notice that certain foods (spicy foods, for example) are irritating, stop eating them. Some people feel better when they eat a bland diet.


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders

The American Gastroenterological Association


Health Canada

The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology


Cecil Textbook of Medicine . 21st ed. WB Saunders Company; 2000.

Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd ed. WB Saunders Company; 2001.

Primary Care Medicine . 4th ed. Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins; 2000.

Last reviewed November 2007 by Daus Mahnke, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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