What is Stress Gastritis?
Gastritis is essentially an inflammation and infection in the protective mucous lining of the stomach. It could be caused by various factors, stress being one of them. Stress induced gastritis is referred to as
. Other causes of gastritis could be alcohol abuse, use of non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (ibuprofen, aspirin etc.), after effect of weight loss surgery, bile reflux (back flow of bile into the stomach), bacterial infection (Helicobacter pylori infection), trauma as in burns or injury and certain auto immune conditions. The risk of the disease is highest for patients on a breathing machine in the intensive care unit. Gastritis does not do a lot of damage to the stomach lining which is beyond repair in the said condition. However, intense irritation and erosion can leave behind sores on the gastric mucosa in some cases.
In stress, the body produces a hormone, namely, cortisol. It is a steroid hormone or a glucocorticoid secreted by the adrenal glands. This particular hormone suppresses the immune system from exhibiting adverse reactions, aids in fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism and increases blood sugar levels through gluconeogenesis. It acts as an anti inflammatory and anti stress agent. However, one of the drawbacks of this anti stress mechanism is that cortisol stimulates the gastric acid secretion. Excess gastric acid which is basically hydrochloric acid triggers the onset of gastritis.
Symptoms of Stress Gastritis
- Dyspepsia (Indigestion)
- Heart burn
- Pain in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Melena or black stools
- Intestinal ulcers
Diagnosis of the condition
- An endoscopy is the most reliable diagnostic tool to detect the condition. It allows the physician to look for damage in the mucous lining of the stomach. It also allows the physician to extract tissue samples for biopsy from the digestive tract.
- Blood tests can be indicative of any underlying infection.
- A stool test is essential to detect the presence of blood in stools.
Treatment of Stress Gastritis
- In case of the said condition, lifestyle changes generally resolves the issue. Reducing stress in everyday life is the only solution. Stress reduction therapies like transcendental meditation, yoga may help. A disciplined life with nutritious food eaten on time, adequate sleep and exercise will definitely help.
- Stress related habits like excessive smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages (coffee/tea) needs to be curbed to bring the said condition under control.
- Treatment with medications generally involves different therapies to inhibit the excessive production of stomach acids. Antacids, proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers are various medications available to combat the excess stomach acids. However, They are not meant for long term use.
- In case of any underlying infection, it becomes imperative to treat the condition with antibiotics.