What is Gastritis?

What is Gastritis?

Gastritis is when the stomach lining becomes irritated, inflamed, or swollen. Mild gastritis is very common. It might feel like an upset stomach or pain in the upper abdomen, or you might not have any symptoms. Usually, gastritis goes away quickly.

If it occurs over and over, talk to your doctor. Chronic gastritis may lead to more serious conditions.

Gastritis vs gastroenteritis

Gastritis and gastroenteritis are two different conditions.

  • Gastritis affects only the stomach lining, a layer of cells coated in mucous that protects the inside wall of the stomach from stomach acid. Gastritis symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, but not always.
  • Gastroenteritis is commonly called stomach flu. It happens when a virus infects the intestines and stomach. Gastroenteritis usually causes diarrhea and vomiting for one to two days.

Types of Gastritis


Three types of gastritis differ in how the stomach lining is affected. The stomach lining is a protective layer of mucous-coated cells.

  • Erosive gastritis happens when the stomach lining is inflamed, and cells are worn away. This condition is also called reactive gastritis which can lead to sores called ulcers.
  • Non-erosive gastritis is only inflammation, or irritation, of the stomach lining. The lining also called the mucosa, stays intact.
  • Atrophic gastritis is less common. It can happen from long-term infection with H. pylori bacteria, or when the body’s immune cells attack the stomach lining. Left untreated, it increases the risk of stomach cancer.

Signs & Symptoms of Gastritis


Gastritis symptoms can last a short time (acute gastritis) and go away, or they may continue for months or years (chronic gastritis). Symptoms also vary from person to person and overlap with symptoms of other conditions.

A physician at NewYork-Presbyterian can diagnose your gastritis symptoms and help you get the most effective treatment.

Gastritis symptoms include:

  • Burning pain in the upper part of the belly
  • Belching
  • Feeling bloated
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Black stool (from blood)
  • Vomiting blood

What Causes Gastritis?


Many things can irritate or damage the stomach lining to cause gastritis.

Causes of gastritis include:

  • Medicines such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other similar drugs
  • Stomach infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Backflow of bile into the stomach (bile reflux)
  • Physical stress from a severe injury, serious illness, or major surgery
  • An autoimmune response (the body’s immune system attacks and damages the stomach lining)
  • Smoking
  • Chronic vomiting from eating disorders

Risk Factors

Risk Factors

Repeated exposure to things that irritate the stomach increases a person’s risk of gastritis. In addition, as people age, the stomach lining becomes thinner and more easily inflamed, and the risk of gastritis increases.

Risk factors for gastritis include:

  • Age over 60 years
  • Long-term use of medicines known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Stomach infection with H. pylori bacteria
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Certain cancer treatments
  • Stress to the body, including major surgery or severe burns



Severe gastritis can cause serious bleeding from the digestive tract. If gastritis is not treated, it can worsen and lead to more dangerous problems with your digestive system, including:

  • Peptic ulcer disease. Painful sores called ulcers may form on the inner lining of the stomach or the small intestine.
  • Bleeding in the stomach. Ulcers that bleed can lead to low red blood cell counts (anemia). Ulcers that break through the stomach wall can spread bacteria, leading to a serious infection called peritonitis.
  • Gastric polyps. These growths of tissue on the inside of the stomach are mostly harmless, but some types can develop into cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia. Gastritis caused by autoimmune disease can slow the body’s absorption of vitamin B-12, which is needed to make red blood cells.



Infection with the bacterium H. pylori is one of the most common causes of gastritis, but most people do not know they have it.

Everyone can reduce the risk of gastritis from an H. pylori infection with good hygiene, especially by:

  • Washing hands frequently

Foods to avoid with gastritis include:

  • Spicy and acidic foods
  • Drinks that contain caffeine
  • Alcohol

To prevent gastritis by reducing indigestion and heartburn:

  • Avoid large meals; instead, eat several small meals a day
  • Manage stress
  • Wait 2-3 hours after a meal before going to sleep
  • Avoid medicines called NSAIDs, which include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • Stop smoking
Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Gastritis Care

Schedule an appointment with a physician at NewYork-Presbyterian to get appropriate treatment for gastritis. Long-term gastritis can lead to serious problems, so it is important to seek treatment. Our digestive care specialists can determine the cause of your gastritis and ensure that you receive prompt, compassionate care.