Gastritis diagram, stomach gas icon, gas pains, gastritis

What is Gastritis?

Gastritis is the condition where your stomach lining becomes inflamed, appearing red and swollen. Your stomach lining is strong and is designed to hold up to the acids in your stomach. 

Not to be mistaken with gas in the stomach (excessive gas), gastritis is when your stomach lining becomes inflamed and irritated for a number of different reasons. Some acts that cause inflammation can include drinking too much alcohol, damage from pain relievers called NSAIDs, or smoking. 



Inflammation of your stomach lining, or gastritis, can be a result of many different factors irritating the lining of your stomach. Gastritis attacks can have a sudden onset, or they can be chronic with symptoms like long-term loss of appetite or nausea. 

Gastritis can be caused by diet or lifestyle choices, including:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Extreme stress. This can be from serious or life-threatening health problems.
  • Long-term use of aspirin and over-the-counter pain relievers, also known as NSAIDs

Gastritis can also be caused by other health issues, including:

  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Major surgery
  • Traumatic injury or burns
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Chronic bile reflux - when bile backs up into your stomach and esophagus. 
  • Pernicious anemia - a form of anemia caused by your stomach’s inability to digest vitamin B-12


There are a number of risk factors that can lead to gastritis. All of these risk factors irritate the stomach lining in a different way. While some factors can be unavoidable, other risk factors can be managed. Risk factors include:

  • Bacterial infections, such as the ulcer causing bacteria, H. pylori. 
  • Regular use of pain relievers. These medications are commonly referred to as NSAIDS. 
  • Older age. Increasing in age increases your risk of gastritis.
  • Excessive alcohol use. Alcohol is a known irritant of your stomach lining and excessive use can cause damage over time.
  • Stress - which can cause an overproduction of stomach acid.
  • Cancer treatment, especially radiation, can irritate and inflame your stomach lining, leading to symptoms of gastritis.
  • Autoimmune disorders. Some autoimmune disorders can affect your stomach by attacking your body’s cells in your stomach. This is often called autoimmune gastritis. 
  • Smoking and tobacco use can irritate the stomach lining, leading to inflammation.


If you suspect you may be suffering from gastritis, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Upset stomach or stomach pain
  • Burping and/or hiccups
  • Abdominal bleeding
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Feeling full and/or burning in your stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in your vomit or stool - this can be a sign that your stomach lining is bleeding


If you’ve regularly experienced any of the symptoms above, your symptoms get worse, or you begin experiencing new symptoms, contact your doctor to schedule an appointment. If you have blood in your vomit or stool or experience black, tarry stools, call your doctor immediately. Treating gastritis early on will help you tackle symptoms before they worsen and help you live a comfortably, gut-healthy life.


When you see your doctor about your gastritis symptoms, they will first give a physical exam, discuss your symptoms, and talk about your medical history. After this initial examination, your doctor may order tests to look further into your symptoms. These tests may include:

  • Blood tests: Your doctor may suspect the presence of H. pylori in your stomach. H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can cause ulcers. Your doctor may also run a blood test to check for anemia, which could indicate bleeding.
  • Breath test: Breath tests are a noninvasive test used to detect bacteria in your stomach. This test will collect particles in your breath and be analyzed to determine the presence of bacteria.
  • Stool sample: Your doctor will collect a small sample of your stool to be sent to a lab and analyzed for stomach bacteria and/or blood in your stool. 
  • Upper GI (gastrointestinal) series or barium swallow: This x-ray checks your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine known as your duodenum. You will simply swallow barium, a metallic fluid, and it will coat your organs so they can be seen on the x-ray.
  • Upper endoscopy (EGD): Endoscopies are conducted by using a very thin, lighted tube with a camera on one end to look at the inside of your upper GI tract. You will be sedated so your doctor can insert the endoscope into your mouth and examine your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. 


Treatment will be prescribed by your GI doctor, once they have determined the causes, symptoms, and severity of your gastritis. Your prescribed treatment may include:

  • Medication
  • Dieting habits
  • No smoking 
  • No alcohol 


While there is not a way to completely avoid gastritis, there are plenty of ways to lower your risk of suffering from an inflamed gut. You can lower your risk by:

  • Practicing good hygiene, especially keeping your hands clean. Washing your hands can help keep you from getting the H. pylori bacteria in your gut.
  • Abstain from consuming foods and drinks that can lead to the irritation of your stomach lining, including alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods. While these things won’t cause gastritis, they will irritate existing gastritis. 
  • Lower your use of over-the-counter pain and fever relievers and NSAIDs. This includes aspirin and ibuprofen.



If you suffer from gastritis, you may notice certain foods may cause an attack or flare up your symptoms. Foods that can potentially irritate your stomach lining include:

  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes and some fruits
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Coffee
  • Fried or fatty foods
  • Fruit juice
  • Pickled foods

Foods That Help Relieve Gastritis

While some foods may be irritating for those with gastritis, here are some anti-inflammatory food options:

  • Leafy, green vegetables - like cabbage, kale, spinach, and arugula
  • Oily fish - like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Nuts
  • Berries and cherries
  • Olive oil


Is gastritis very serious?

Generally, gastritis is not very serious. It can lead to ulcers and may increase your risk of stomach cancer. However, in most cases, gastritis can easily be treated and isn’t a serious issue.

How do I get gastritis to go away?

You can help treat your gastritis symptoms with acid blockers, also known as H-2 blockers, as they lower the amount of acid released in your digestive tract. The reduced stomach acid can relieve gastritis symptoms and help with healing. Talk to your GI doctor about which H-2 blocker they recommend for you.

Is Pepto Bismol or TUMS good for gastritis?

Pepto Bismol and TUMS are known antacids and are used to neutralize stomach acid. Another great antacid is milk of magnesia. You can use antacids to relieve symptoms, taking a dose every 30 minutes as needed. 

Is Oatmeal good for gastritis?

Oatmeal, or other light porridge, is gentle on the stomach and regularly recommended for gastritis patients. Oatmeal is known to be gentle on the gastric mucosa.

Is Yogurt good for gastritis?

Yogurt is a great option, thanks to its antibacterial properties. It can help fight inflammation and contains antioxidants.

Is Broccoli good for gastritis?

Yes, it is! Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which has antibacterial properties and antioxidants. 

Does drinking water help gastritis?

Water can help control the level of gastric juices in your stomach, which can encourage healing of your gastritis. Avoid drinking too much water before or after meals because it can be counterproductive to the digestive process.

What drinks help gastritis?

While caffeinated drinks should be avoided, water, herbal tea, non-dairy milk, and low-sugar, low-acid fruit juices are great options. If your gastritis is mild, you can try drinking coffee with non-dairy milk or creamer options.

Can gastritis be caused by stress?

Stress can increase the production of gastric juices, which can irritate your stomach lining. If you notice indigestion or inflammation of your stomach during stressful times and it lingers for a week or more, call your doctor to see if you have gastritis. 

How long does gastritis take to heal?

Acute gastritis typically only lasts for a short period of time and can resolve itself. Sometimes, acute gastritis can develop into chronic gastritis with long-term inflammation.

Why won't it go away?

If your symptoms of gastritis do not go away after altering your diet, stress, and lifestyle habits contributing to your symptoms, you might have an infection or damaged gastric mucosa. Talk with your doctor right away, so you can get a diagnosis and treatment to take care of your gut. Charleston GI offers board-certified gastroenterologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating GI tract conditions. 


To learn more about treatment for GI tract issues in Charleston, SC, get in touch today! Charleston Gastroenterology is committed to a higher standard of caring – and we provide a range of medical treatments to help you feel your best.

If you are experiencing painful gi tract symptoms, schedule your appointment today! No referral needed.