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Gastritis and Helicobacter Pylori Infection

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Gastritis  a refers to an irritation of the stomach, that can be acute or chronic.  Symptoms are variable and can be a mild, moderate or severe pain in the upper part of the abdomen, bloating, nausea, vomiting, burning of the stomach after eating or after  fasting a long period of time. In more severe cases there can be black or bloody vomiting.

What causes gastritis? There are many causes to gastritis such as alcohol use and abuse, smoking, use of certain medicines such as aspirin and other medicine for pain(naproxen, indomethacin, etc),  as well as antibiotics, and bile reflux. A very important cause of gastritis symptoms is bacterial infection, especially Helicobacter pylori.

What should I avoid eating if I have gastritis? You should avoid foods that are too spicy, fatty, fried or acid since this will make your symptoms more severe. It is also recommended that you eat often and in small quantities (4-6 times per day), as well as restrict the amount of alcoholic beverages and avoid smoking completely.

What is Helicobacter Pylori? It is a bacterial infection that is highly related to symptoms of gastritis. This is an infection that is exclusive to the stomach and occasionally to the first portion of the small intestine. This bacteria causes inflammation of the stomach, therefore many of the symptoms of gastritis.  If left untreated over a long period of time this bacteria can lead to ulcers which can sometimes progress to gastric cancer.

Does this mean that if I have the bacteria I am going to have cancer? Not necessarily, the progression to cancer is generally in patients who have had the infection for many years (usually 20 or more).

How do I know if I have the infection? Several tests are available to diagnose the infection.

How is this infection treated? There are several medicines that need to be taken for a period of 14 days and sometimes longer. Treatments today are very effective and can eliminate the infection if taken as directed.

What if I have these symptoms and no infection with the bacteria? There are many medicines that can be prescribed to you by your doctor that can help eliminate your symptoms, along a special diet.
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