Antral gastritis can cause significant discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract of those affected. T
his condition is classified as an autoimmune disorder, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, leading to the associated symptoms. Unlike other forms of gastritis that affect the entire gastric mucosa, antral gastritis specifically affects a distinct region of the stomach.
Types Of Antral Gastritis
There are two different forms of antral gastritis:
Antral Superficial Gastritis
Catarrhal, or simple gastritis, also known as superficial gastritis, is a less commonly observed form of the condition that specifically affects the upper layers of the stomach’s mucous membrane. It may cause discomfort in the epigastric region following a meal.
Antral Erosive Gastritis
Characterized by scars and lesions, this form is considered difficult to treat. It is estimated that about 85 percent of patients can sometimes be infected by ulcer-causing bacteria called Helicobacter pylori.
Causes Of Antral Gastritis
The presentation of gastritis—inflammation of the stomach lining—can be due to various causes. Infections, physical stress, and even the use of certain medications may be the culprit. Commonly used medications to treat pain and fever called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are among the most common causes of gastritis.
Chronic use of the medication may cause the cells maintaining the mucosal layer of the stomach to stop working, leading to gastric acid damage on the stomach lining.
The following are other causes of gastritis pain:
- Alcohol, such as whiskey, vodka, and gin
- Bacterial infections, such as those caused by H. pylori, H. heilmannii, and streptococci
- Viral infections, for example, caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
- Fungal infections, like candidiasis, histoplasmosis, and phycomycosis
- Parasitic infections such as anisakiasis
- Acute stress
- Radiation exposure
- Allergy and food poisoning
- Bile due to reflux from the small intestine to the stomach
- Ischemia, which refers to damage due to lack of blood supply to the stomach
- Direct trauma
- Severe stress secondary to past surgery, trauma, CVA, long bed-ridden conditions
- Portal hypertension with gastropathy, bile reflux
- Viral infection like Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) in AIDS
- Peptic ulcers
- Granulomatous inflammation
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Medications such as aspirin, iron supplements, NSAIDs, naproxen, steroids, chemotherapy agents and cocaine
Antral Gastritis Symptoms
The primary mode of symptom formation is the development of inflammation in the antrum—the lower portion of the stomach. This region is responsible for releasing the contents of the stomach into the small intestine.
The following symptoms may be experienced:
Indigestion: It is a prevalent symptom of antral gastritis, impacting both the digestion process and the movement of food into the intestines. Additionally, it may cause a burning sensation in the upper abdomen.
Nausea: Nausea often accompanies indigestion and is caused by inflammation in the stomach lining. It can range from mild to severe and may cause vomiting. A decrease in appetite is an inevitable outcome.
Gas: Because of the inflammation’s location, emptying food into the intestine becomes affected. As a result, partially undigested food passes into the intestines. Once there, food contents may begin fermenting for extended periods of time, leading to bloating and flatulence. Excess gas may also build up within the stomach, leading to burping.
Discomfort: Partly due to excess gas accumulation, but also because of the inflammatory processes that may cause pain felt while eating.
Stool changes: Stool may become dark or tarry, but this is a rare occurrence as it is an indication of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Medical attention is needed right away if this is observed.
Diagnosing Antral Gastritis
Diagnosing antral gastritis typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. If you experience symptoms such as indigestion, nausea, discomfort, or changes in stool, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.
The following are some common diagnostic methods used to identify antral gastritis:
Endoscopy: A key diagnostic tool, endoscopy involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) through the mouth and into the stomach. This allows the doctor to directly visualize the stomach lining and identify signs of inflammation.
Biopsy: During endoscopy, the doctor may take a small tissue sample (biopsy) from the inflamed area for microscopic examination. This helps to determine the underlying cause of antral gastritis, such as H. pylori infection or other abnormalities.
Blood tests: These can be performed to detect the presence of H. pylori antibodies or other indicators of inflammation. These tests provide valuable insights into one’s health status and can aid in diagnosing various conditions.
Stool tests: By analyzing stool samples, healthcare professionals can detect the presence of H. pylori or blood, which may indicate gastrointestinal bleeding. This non-invasive method provides valuable insights into a patient’s condition and helps in diagnosing potential health issues within the gastrointestinal tract.
Imaging tests: In some cases, imaging tests like X-rays or abdominal ultrasound may be used to assess the condition of the stomach and nearby organs.
What Are the Complications That Arise If Gastritis Is Left Untreated?
If antral gastritis is left untreated or not managed effectively, it can lead to several complications, including:
Peptic ulcers: These arise from chronic inflammation and manifest as open sores in the stomach lining or upper small intestine. These ulcers can induce pain, bleeding, and potentially severe complications if they perforate or obstruct.
Gastrointestinal bleeding: The inflamed stomach lining may develop small blood vessels that can bleed. If not addressed promptly, this bleeding can lead to anemia and require medical intervention.
Gastric outlet obstruction: In severe cases, chronic inflammation and scarring may narrow the opening between the stomach and the small intestine, causing a gastric outlet obstruction. This can lead to difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, and significant discomfort.
Increased risk of stomach cancer: While the risk of stomach cancer from gastritis is relatively low, long-term chronic gastritis, especially if caused by H. pylori infection, can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience persistent or worsening symptoms of antral gastritis to prevent potential complications.
Treating Antral Gastritis
As mentioned, there are numerous causes of antral gastritis, all having specific treatments associated with them. If discomfort is due to chronic NSAID use, simply discontinuing the medication will relieve symptoms. Gastritis pain due to infection can be remedied by antibiotics targeting the specific causative bacteria.
If your doctor is unsure about what is the exact cause of antral gastritis in your particular case, the symptoms are commonly treated with antacids. This medication can be purchased over the counter and works very well. However, if left untreated, antral gastritis may lead to progressive damage of the stomach lining and potentially create conditions for bacteria to proliferate, resulting in further complication.
Home Remedies for Antral Gastritis
If you are experiencing mild forms of gastritis discomfort, you can try some home remedies:
- Chewing fresh ginger before meals
- Consuming a teaspoon of carom seeds
- Drinking coconut water
- Using a warm compress or hot water bottle on the site of discomfort
- Increasing fluid intake by drinking more water or juice
- Adding buttermilk and curd to your meals
- Antral gastritis diet
Role of Diet in Gastritis
The role of diet in managing symptoms associated with gastric pain cannot be underestimated. Following a gastric-specific diet is highly recommended to effectively alleviate symptoms. Opting for smaller, more frequent meals (five to six times a day) can help regulate gastric acid production. In cases of acute gastric pain, it is advisable to consume mushy or liquid foods, as they are easier for the stomach to handle. Equally important is avoiding foods that may trigger gastric pain. By prioritizing a well-balanced diet, you can better manage and alleviate symptoms associated with gastric pain.
The following are examples of well-known foods to eat and foods to avoid in case of gastritis:
Good Foods To Eat:
- Soups from barley, semolina, and rice
- Lean meat
- Cereal with milk
- Cottage cheese
Possible Trigger Foods To Avoid:
- Fish broth
- Canned or smoked meats
Is It Safe to Consume Milk If I Have Gastritis?
The relationship between milk consumption and gastritis has been a subject of debate. While some people find relief from gastritis symptoms by drinking milk, others may experience increased discomfort. It is essential to consider individual responses and medical advice.
Milk’s alkaline nature can neutralize stomach acid temporarily, providing relief from heartburn and indigestion for some individuals. However, in others, milk may stimulate the stomach to produce more acid, leading to worsened symptoms. Additionally, some individuals with lactose intolerance may experience gastrointestinal issues after consuming milk.
If you find that milk soothes your gastritis symptoms, you can consume it in moderation. However, if you notice any adverse effects or worsening of symptoms, it’s best to avoid milk and consult your healthcare provider for personalized dietary recommendations.
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
If you experience symptoms of antral gastritis, such as persistent stomach pain, indigestion, nausea, or changes in stool color, it’s essential to consult a doctor promptly.
Additionally, seek medical attention if you observe any signs of gastrointestinal bleeding, such as dark or tarry stools, or if your symptoms interfere with your daily activities and quality of life.
Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation, perform necessary diagnostic tests, and recommend appropriate treatment based on the underlying cause of your gastritis. Early diagnosis and management can prevent complications and promote faster recovery.
In conclusion, antral gastritis can cause significant discomfort and should not be ignored.
Understanding its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options is essential for effectively managing the condition.
Additionally, following a gastritis-friendly diet and seeking medical advice when needed can help alleviate symptoms and promote stomach health. Remember to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and appropriate management of antral gastritis.