Gastritis, acid reflux and GERD (Gastro-eosophageal reflux disease):
As it is very common in Nepalese community to say that everyone in Nepal has “Gastric”, a term commonly used for Gastritis. Many also mistakenly think that gastritis is a gas formation in the stomach (or intestine). Many of us also say it correctly as Acidity.
What is Gastritis? Gastritis (or simply Gastric, as most commonly called in Nepal) is an irritation of the inner layer of the stomach by natural acid, produced in our stomach. This acid is required for digestion. Thus, whenever we eat, stomach starts to produce this acid. If the amount of acid is more than normal or acid is produced excessively than required, or when gastric juice is produced, even when we are not eating anything, then this acid will start to irritate and burn the inner layer of our stomach. Which will cause discomfort and abdomen pain. This condition is known as Gastritis (or gastric in Nepal). The pain is usually located on the upper part of the stomach, just below the chest in the middle. Lot of people in Nepal also say “mutu” (heart) pain.
If this acid starts to go above into the food pipe (oesophagus), which connects the throat and the stomach, will burn the inner layer of the food pipe. This will cause heartburn – burning sensation in the middle of the chest and often a taste of food or sour (“amilo”) taste at the back of the throat. This condition is known as Acid Reflux (due to reflux of acid from stomach into the food pipe). If this condition reoccurs frequently, then its called GERD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease), which requires immediate treatment.
Gastritis (gastric) and acid reflux are pretty common and we all have experienced it at one time or the other. Reflux usually happens while lying down. The causes of Gastritis and Acid Reflux are usually eating excessive food, not eating for long period of time (staying empty stomach), smoking, alcohol and mental stress.
In some of the cases simple lifestyle modification can help eliminate the gastritis. Having frequent meals in small amount, avoiding some foods which you know causes heart burn and pain abdomen, not staying empty stomach for a long period of time, stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake, and learn to cope with mental stress. Staying upright after eating will help refluxes.
If these simple lifestyle modifications doesn’t help, then there are simple medications that you can buy over the counter which will help to reduce the acid secretion and decreases the reflux. Common medications are Digene, Ranitidine (Aciloc) and Pantoprazole.
Frequent refluxes or GERD needs to be treated properly with course of medication. If left untreated the acid will gradually burn the oesophagus (food pipe) till the inner layer of the oesophagus changes its tissue irreversibly and later can be the cause of cancer. Thus, if you have a recurrent gastritis you must visit a doctor for a proper treatment.
Other diseases that can mimic gastritis are Ulcer, stomach cancer, heart diseases mainly heart attack, liver diseases, gall bladder stone and colon diseases. You must know, how to differential heart attack from gastritis, because heart attack can lead to sudden death and you must not waste any time and rush to the nearest hospital. If the symptoms of gastritis are frequently troubling you, you must also visit a doctor to rule out GERD and other potentially dangerous diseases.
For more information and/or appointment just ask us a question and we will be happy to answer all your queries and discuss your symptoms.