Gastritis is when the stomach lining becomes inflamed (swollen and red). Many things can increase the risk of gastritis. While gastritis can be mild and heal on its own, treatment may be needed depending on the cause and symptoms.
What causes gastritis?
Gastritis can arise suddenly and be short-lived (acute gastritis), or develop gradually and last over a few months or years (chronic gastritis). Many things can cause gastritis. Common causes include a type of bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori) and regular use of certain pain-relief medicines called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
The inflammation caused by gastritis can weaken the stomach lining and make it thinner. This means the digestive juices in your stomach (which are acidic) can create further inflammation and damage.
Read more about what causes gastritis.
Not everyone with gastritis will experience symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include:
- a burning pain in your upper stomach area – which may improve or worsen with eating
- a feeling of fullness after eating.
Read more about gastritis symptoms.
The treatment for gastritis will depend on its cause. Even so, you can also take action to help protect your stomach lining, such as avoiding aggravating foods (for example spicy, acidic, fatty and fried foods) and alcohol.
If left untreated, gastritis can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding. While rare, it can also increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Gastritis often clears up by itself. See your doctor if you suspect that you have gastritis, especially if you have any of the following:
- gastritis symptoms that last more than a week
- vomiting blood or black, tarry substance (dried blood)
- blood in your stool (poo), or stool that is black.
Read more about gastritis treatments.
Last reviewed: February 2017