What Is Acute Gastritis? Everything to Know

Medically Reviewed By Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
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Acute gastritis is the sudden inflammation of the stomach lining. This can result in abdominal pain, bleeding, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. The stomach is lined with cells that protect it from its digestive acids. Acute gastritis can develop when the stomach’s protective lining is damaged or compromised.

This article looks at the symptoms of acute gastritis and what can cause it. It also discusses treatment options, when to contact a doctor, and more.

What are the symptoms of acute gastritis?

A person is drinking a glass of water.
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Acute gastritis is a sudden inflammation and swelling of the stomach lining that may result in several symptoms.

When symptoms occur, they can vary in nature and severity. Symptoms can include:

Learn more about symptoms of gastritis.

What causes acute gastritis?

Your stomach is lined with cells that secrete mucus to form a protective barrier between stomach acid and your stomach wall. When that protective barrier is damaged or breached, the stomach lining can become inflamed, resulting in gastritis.

Many factors and conditions can increase the risk of damage to your stomach lining. These include:

  • tobacco smoking
  • consuming alcohol
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • viral or bacterial infections
  • feeling stressed

What are the treatments for acute gastritis?

Treatment of acute gastritis varies depending on the underlying cause and the nature and severity of the symptoms. 

Medication to reduce stomach acid

Proton pump inhibitors, antacids, and H2 antagonists can decrease the acid in your stomach. They are another treatment option for acute gastritis.

Antibiotics

If your gastritis is caused by an H. pylori infection, antibiotic therapy is the main treatment. It is important to follow your antibiotic prescription precisely to avoid reinfection or recurrence.

Learn about the types of antibiotics.

Other treatments

If you have nausea or vomiting due to acute gastritis, fluid and electrolyte replenishment can be a component of treatment.

Your doctor may also recommend that you stop taking NSAIDs, drinking alcohol, and smoking tobacco. This can help prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the risk of recurrence.

What is a good gastritis diet?

Consuming bland food may help to ease symptoms of acute gastritis and help the stomach heal.

Bland foods include:

  • low fiber grains
  • non-gassy vegetables
  • any fruit except citrus
  • low fat or nonfat milk or milk products
  • lean meat, poultry, eggs, and fish

It is best to avoid foods that are:

  • high in fat
  • acidic
  • spicy
  • fried

Learn more about the best and worst foods for gastritis.

Does drinking water help gastritis?

Drinking water may help to alleviate symptoms of acute gastritis. It is also a better alternative to caffeinated drinks and sodas, which may irritate the stomach.

A 2020 study found that alkaline water, in particular, may help to reduce gastritis.

How long does acute gastritis last?

Symptoms of acute gastritis may resolve within a few days.

However, if symptoms do not go away, contact a doctor. Acute gastritis can develop into chronic gastritis if untreated or if treatment is ineffective.

When should I see a doctor?

You should contact a doctor if you experience symptoms of acute gastritis. There are many possible causes of gastrointestinal symptoms, so it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis and begin the right treatment for you.

How do doctors diagnose acute gastritis?

To reach a diagnosis, your doctor may perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.

If they suspect gastritis, your doctor may then order an endoscopy and biopsy. These can help to determine the cause and severity of acute gastritis.

Learn about endoscopy.

What are the complications of acute gastritis?

Acute gastritis may not be serious. However, acute gastritis or its underlying causes can lead to complications in some cases, especially if left untreated.

Complications of acute gastritis can include:

  • severe discomfort or pain
  • malnutrition due to lack of appetite, discomfort, and decreased nutritional intake
  • spread of infection
  • stomach ulcer
  • perforated gastric ulcer, which can lead to bleeding
  • increased risk of stomach cancer

Can I prevent acute gastritis?

There are steps to reduce your risk of acute gastritis. These include:

  • avoiding alcohol or limiting your intake
  • avoiding smoking tobacco
  • using NSAIDs only as recommended or using alternative treatments

Contact your doctor if you have concerns about acute gastritis. They will be able to provide you with more information about ways to reduce your risk.

Summary

Acute gastritis occurs when there is damage to the lining of the stomach. It can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bloating, and indigestion.

Acute gastritis may resolve within a few days. Still, you may want to contact a doctor about treatments. Treatments can include medications to reduce stomach acid and antibiotics for an infection.

Your doctor may order an endoscopy and biopsy to evaluate the severity of the condition. This will help them find the best treatment for you.

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Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 30
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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