Preventing H. pylori infection
It’s not clear how H. pylori spread, but there’s some evidence that it could be transmitted from person to person or through contaminated food and water. You can take steps to protect yourself from infections, such as H. pylori, by frequently washing your hands with soap and water and by eating foods that have been cooked completely.
Although your doctor is likely to suspect gastritis after talking to you about your medical history and performing an exam, you may also have one or more of the following tests to pinpoint the exact cause.
Tests for H. pylori. Your doctor may recommend tests to determine whether you have the bacterium H. pylori. Which type of test you undergo depends on your situation. H. pylori may be detected in a blood test, in a stool test, or by a breath test. For the breath test, you drink a small glass of clear, tasteless liquid that contains radioactive carbon. H. pylori bacteria break down the test liquid in your stomach. Later, you blow into a bag, which is then sealed. If you’re infected with H. pylori, your breath sample will contain radioactive carbon.
Using a scope to examine your upper digestive system (endoscopy). During endoscopy, your doctor passes a flexible tube equipped with a lens (endoscope) down your throat and into your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Using the endoscope, your doctor looks for signs of inflammation. If a suspicious area is found, your doctor may remove small tissue samples (biopsy) for laboratory examination. A biopsy can also identify the presence of H. pylori in your stomach lining.
X-ray of your upper digestive system. Sometimes called a barium swallow or upper gastrointestinal series, this series of X-rays creates images of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine to look for abnormalities. To make the ulcer more visible, you may swallow a white, metallic liquid (containing barium) that coats
Treatment of gastritis depends on the specific cause. Acute gastritis caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or alcohol may be relieved by stopping use of those substances.
Medications used to treat gastritis include:
Antibiotic medications to kill H. pylori. For H. pylori in your digestive tract, your doctor may recommend a combination of antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin) and amoxicillin (Amoxil, Augmentin, others) or metronidazole (Flagyl), to kill the bacterium. Be sure to take the full antibiotic prescription, usually for seven to 14 days.
Medications that block acid production and promote healing. Proton pump inhibitors reduce acid by blocking the action of the parts of cells that produce acid. These drugs include the prescription and over-the-counter medications omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (Aciphex), esomeprazole (Nexium), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant) and pantoprazole (Protonix).Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors, particularly at high doses, may increase your risk of hip, wrist and spine fractures. Ask your doctor whether a calcium supplement may reduce this risk.
Medications to reduce acid production. Acid blockers — also called histamine (H-2) blockers — reduce the amount of acid released into your digestive tract, which relieves gastritis pain and encourages healing. Available by prescription or over-the-counter, acid blockers include famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet HB) and nizatidine (Axid AR).
Antacids that neutralize stomach acid. Your doctor may include an antacid in your drug regimen. Antacids neutralize existing stomach acid and can provide rapid pain relief. Side effects can include constipation or diarrhea, depending on the main ingredients.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You may find some relief from signs and symptoms if you:
- Eat smaller, more-frequent meals. If you experience frequent indigestion, eat smaller meals more often to help ease the effects of stomach acid.
- Avoid irritating foods. Avoid foods that irritate your stomach, especially those that are spicy, acidic, fried or fatty.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can irritate the mucous lining of your stomach.
- Consider switching pain relievers. If you use pain relievers that increase your risk of gastritis, ask your doctor whether acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may be an option for you. This medication is less likely to aggravate your stomach problem.