A number of factors and conditions can hurt your stomach, causing inflammation of the stomach lining called gastritis (one of common digestive problems). Some effective treatment options are available to cope with. But sometimes it may return after treatment and become chronic. So can it be cured permanently?
With prompt treatment, you should be able to recover completely and the condition may never come back afterward. But this is also dependent on what causes your gastritis. See also how long it takes to heal in here!
In general, the disease is caused by one or some of the following:
- H-pylori bacterial infection. Many people with the infection don’t develop gastritis. But some people are more sensitive to H-pylori infection, making gastritis more likely to occur. Bad lifestyle factors such as poor diet and smoking may worsen the risk.
- Regular and long-term use of NSAIDs (aspirin and ibuprofen for examples) or other medications that can damage and inflame the stomach lining. Excessive NSAIDs use may impair a key substance that maintains the protective stomach lining.
- Stressful events such as; after a major surgery, critical illness, burns, or bad injury. They can trigger acute gastritis.
- Excessive use of alcohol. Alcohol is not only bad for the liver, but also for the lining of your stomach. Chronic excessive alcohol use can irritate and erode the lining, making it more susceptible to the bad effects of digestive juice (stomach acid and pepsin).
- In rare cases, gastritis is a consequence of certain conditions such as; autoimmune diseases, sarcoidosis, HIV/AIDs and Crohn’s disease.
Acute gastritis, though it can strike abruptly, often relieves without causing serious problems. Even sometimes it heals on its own without treatment. However, medical intervention is required if the condition doesn’t relieve with lifestyle measures. For instance, if it’s caused by H-pylori infection, antibiotics are necessary to kill the bacteria and promote healing.
Chronic gastritis is more difficult to treat since it’s more likely to return after treatment. It develops slowly over time. But if the exact cause is known, it’s quite possible to cure the disease. This is especially true if the underlying cause is reversible.
For example, if your chronic gastritis is caused by regular use of NSAIDs, eliminating these pain relievers along with gastritis medications should provide complete recovery. If necessary, your doctor may suggest switching to another pain reliever that doesn’t provoke gastritis such as Tylenol. However some people cannot completely stop NSAIDs because they need them to help control certain medical conditions. In such case, it’s recommended to use NSAIDs at lowest dose possible.
Permanent healing for gastritis may not be possible if the disease is caused by abnormality body immune system (also called autoimmune gastritis). Without known reason, the immune system attacks healthy stomach cells, including those that make up the stomach lining. This reaction can ruin the stomach’s protective barrier, causing gastritis more likely to form. And as with most autoimmune disorders, there is currently no cure to fix this body’s immune system abnormality. The goal of treatment is to control the condition and prevent its complications. Therefore, it may require ongoing monitoring.
The risk of developing serious complications increases if chronic gastritis’s inflammation continues without treatment.
As the inflammation wears away at the lining of stomach, the lining can weaken over time. If left untreated, this can cause complications like stomach ulcers, internal bleeding, and even stomach cancer. Also, the ability of the stomach to absorb nutrients from foods may also be affected. For instance, the disease may make the stomach more difficult to absorb vitamins, causing anemia and interfering with your nerve function.
Are there any ways to prevent gastritis and its recurrence? Again, this is also dependent on the cause of the disease. But though each case is unique, the following approaches should help reduce the risk of having the recurrence after treatment:
- Take all of medicines as you have been instructed by health provider who prescribed them. This is especially true for antibiotics – don’t stop early even though you start feel better. Incomplete course of antibiotics may not kill all bacteria completely. As a result the surviving bacteria could be more resistant, making gastritis caused by bacterial infection become harder to treat and more likely to come back after treatment.
- Frequently wash your hands (especially after using the toilet) and make sure your meals have been cooked completely. These might help prevent H-pylori infection.
- Eliminate any factors that put you at high risk of the recurrence, such as; excessive alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and excessive use of NSAIDs /any pain relievers that provoke gastritis!
In addition, there are some herbs or supplements that might help cure the disease. But since most of them have no adequate evidence on effectiveness, consult with your doctor first!