As gastritis - an irritation and inflammation of the stomach - strikes millions of people for a variety of reasons, you may be wondering what the different causes of gastritis are?.
First, it’s necessary to understand how the stomach works. The stomach is a hollow sac that rests in the upper left corner of your abdomen, right beneath the rib cage. For an adult, the stomach is usually about 10 inches in length and, when stretched to its normal limit, can hold approximately a gallon of material, liquid or food. When it’s empty, it collapses on itself, sort of like an empty balloon.
As you know, the stomach is where food and liquid are broken down before being released into the small intestine. Food travels to your stomach via the esophagus, being permitted into the stomach by a sphincter muscle that relaxes to let it in, then closes again once the food and liquid has passed through. Immediately upon getting a new shipment of food, your stomach starts breaking it down with acids and enzymes. One of these acids is called hydrochloric acid and is extraordinarily corrosive. Your stomach has a special lining that is designed to withstand the acids necessary for digestion.
Gastritis is what happens when something causes your stomach lining to be compromised, allowing the caustic acids to damage the stomach. A lot of different things can cause this to happen.
The most common cause is a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. This bacterium is transmitted in contaminated food and water and can spread from person to person. It’s one of the major causes of stomach ulcers, too.
Taking aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen - that’s Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and others - on a regular basis can lead to gastritis. These drugs, while helpful for pain relief symptoms, have the unfortunate side effects of tearing down the stomach lining slightly. A couple tablets now and then won’t produce any long-lasting harm, but taking them regularly can easily cause stomach ulcers as well as gastritis.
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A number of things that are bad for you anyway are, unsurprisingly, bad for your stomach lining, too. Drinking a lot of alcohol can lead to gastritis, and so can excessive caffeine. Cocaine will do it too, not to mention the damage it does to the rest of your body and brain.
Chemotherapy and radiation are also causal factors in gastritis. Cancer patients receiving these treatments are at greater risk for gastritis because radiation irritates and inflames the stomach lining. Generally, the damage is temporary provided the exposure to the radiation is temporary and moderate. But if it’s a particularly heavy chemotherapy treatment, it may cause permanent damage to the stomach lining and thus open the door for gastritis.
These are just a few of the causes of gastritis. There are others, but these are the most common ones to look out for.
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