What are they?
Gastritis and ulcer are two pathological conditions that affect the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
Gastritis almost always affects the stomach lining, causing inflammation, painful sensations, nausea, cramps and bloating.
Ulcers are sores on the lining of your stomach or small intestine, very often caused by untreated gastritis. If the ulcer is in your stomach, it is called a gastric ulcer. If the ulcer is in your duodenum, it is called a duodenal ulcer.
Ulcer main symptoms are burning or gnawing pain in the centre of the tummy (abdomen), blood in the stool, cramps and spasms in the abdominal region.
The main difference between gastritis and ulcer is that in gastritis the lesion affects the superficial part of the mucosa, while in ulcers the lesion is much deeper and affects the muscle layer below the mucosa.
Common causes of gastritis include:
- Stress leading to stress-induced gastritis;
- Viral or parasitic infections;
- Use of drugs such as cocaine which causes vasoconstriction-induced ischemia and necrosis of the mucosal wall;
- Alcohol abuse may lead to damage of the gastric mucosa, including hemorrhagic lesions;
- Congenital anomalies, including the release of bile into the gastric lumen, rather than in the intestine. In this way the bile can cause inflammation of the mucous membrane;
- Autoimmune diseases, including antibodies that attack the gastric mucosa. in this case we speak of autoimmune gastritis;
- Helicobacter pylori gastritis, a bacterium that can damage the gastric mucosa.
Common causes of ulcers include:
- Untreated gastritis;
- Use of steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs and aspirin.
But in general, the ulcer almost always results from untreated gastritis.
Among the symptoms of gastritis, we have:
- Pain and burning sensation in the central part of the abdomen;
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite;
- Bloating after eating;
- Physical weakness;
- Shortness of breath.
- Symptoms of acute gastritis include pain, nausea or vomiting.
Untreated acute gastritis can develop into chronic gastritis with symptoms such as bleeding during bowel movement or vomiting, bloating after eating, black tarry stools.
Main symptoms of ulcer include:
- Stomach pain, spasms and twinges;
- Stomach heaviness;
- Empty stomach feeling;
- Blood in stool;
- Oral bleeding;
Gastroenterologists can make a diagnosis of gastritis or ulcer. Further to a first visit, the specialist will order further examinations. Among these exams, we can list:
- Blood analysis with complete blood count, hemoglobin, iron, ferritin and transferrin, associated anti-Helicobacter pylori test.
- Helicobacter pylori breath test.
- Faecal occult blood (Hemoccult SENSA) and Helicobacter pylori stool antigen testing;
- Gastroscopy to diagnosis digestive disorders.;
- Abdominal X-ray to detect inflammatory bowel diseases.
The main drugs used for gastritis or ulcer are:
- Antibiotics if it is caused by Helicobacter pylori.
- Antacids such as Maalox, Ranitidine or Cimetidine.
- Pump inhibitors such as Omeprazole.
The best natural and home remedies for ulcers and gastritis are:
- A teaspoon of water and bicarbonate helps neutralize gastric acid in the stomach.
- Mallow helps reduce spasms and abdominal pain.
- Chamomile has an antispastic action, which reduces cramps and abdominal pain.
- Cabbage has a healing effect on the gastric mucosa.
- Carrot is rich in pectins with a soothing action on the mucous membrane.
- Potato can help relieve pain and cramps.
- Ginger has soothing and digestive properties.
- Fennel or fennel tea help reduce swollen abdomen and heaviness.
- Aloe juice has a soothing and anti-inflammatory action.
- Wakame seaweed protects and soothes the gastric mucous membranes.
A good diet and an efficient digestive process are essential to help improve gastritis symptoms or keep them from getting worse:
- Pureed vegetables, legumes, meat promote digestion;
- Drinking much water stimulates salivation and esophageal fluids, which protect the gastric mucosa;
- Eat small frequent meals;
- Eat slowly to help digestion.
- Avoid dairy products and cereals that have a high gluten content, as lactose and gluten are inflammatory.
- Avoid packaged foods, rich in additives and preservatives.
- Avoid deep fried foods and prefer steamed foods.
- Avoid coffee;
- Tomato, oranges, vinegar must be taken in moderation.
- Don’t go to bed immediately after meals, but walk for at least 30 minutes.
- Eat probiotic foods such as low-fat, sugar-free yogurt, kefir, miso or natto.
- Eat whole grains that have a soothing and anti-inflammatory action.
- Eat foods rich in omega 3 such as oily fish, that has soothing and anti-inflammatory actions.