Gastritis is a condition in which the lining of the stomach, or mucosa, is inflamed. The lining of the stomach contains parietal cells, which produce acid, various enzymes and mucus. The acid and enzymes break apart food and help with the process of digestion and the mucus protects the mucosa from being damaged by the stomach acid. Gastritis leads to a decreased production of acid, mucus and enzymes. The pain and discomfort associated with gastritis symptoms may lead to unintentional weight loss.
Causes of Gastritis
The most common causes of gastritis are Helicobacter pylori infection, excessive alcohol use, loss of the stomach lining, chronic use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and smoking. Other possible causes of gastritis include autoimmune disorders, bile reflux, increased stomach acid secretion and a viral infection.
Symptoms of Gastritis
A burning pain in the upper abdomen is one of the most common symptoms of gastritis. This pain may become worse or better with eating. Those who experience increased pain after eating often avoid eating, which can lead to weight loss. Gastritis also results in a loss of appetite, which also contributes to weight loss. Other symptoms of gastritis include nausea, vomiting, belching, abdominal bloating and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen. These symptoms may lead to decreased appetite and weight loss.
Treatment of Gastritis
Specific treatment for gastritis depends on the underlying cause of the condition, however, most cases can be controlled with a combination of medications. Antacids, which neutralize stomach acid, can relieve pain associated with gastritis. Acid blockers and proton pump inhibitors can stop the production of acid. If gastritis is caused by an H. pylori infection, antibiotics are also used as part of a treatment plan.
Complications of Gastritis
Untreated gastritis can lead to the development of stomach ulcers, which can cause bleeding in the stomach. Chronic gastritis, which is a type of gastritis that lasts for several months, may also increase your risk of stomach cancer, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Gastritis and Weight Loss
Because gastritis leads to a decreased appetite, you may not have any desire to eat; however, it is important to make a conscious effort to ensure that you are consuming enough foods to prevent severe weight loss. If regular foods bother your stomach, try pureed foods, soups or smoothies. These foods are generally easier on the stomach and won't cause as much pain and discomfort. You can also try consuming nutritional shakes.