Gastritis means that the lining of the stomach is inflamed. You may feel a gnawing or burning pain in your tummy, just above the belly button, a feeling of fullness or bloating, nausea or vomiting, and you may suffer belching. It’s closely related to acid reflux, and you may experience heartburn or discomfort in your chest or throat after eating. If prolonged, it’s important this is recognised and treated, as it carries a risk of stomach ulcers, which is serious. You should avoid anything that makes it worse – there are well-known triggers – and seek medication if things aren’t improving.
You can reduce your risk of developing gastritis or making it worse by modifying certain aspects of your lifestyle. Avoid excess alcohol and smoking, and avoid rich, oily, spicy, or acidic foods. Obesity puts additional pressure on the stomach, so a weight loss programme may improve symptoms. Certain medications can cause gastritis, including ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and steroids – take these with meals and if you are taking consistently for more than a couple of weeks, ask your doctor about medication to protect the stomach. It’s a good idea to take small regular meals instead of big meals, and avoid lying down for two hours after eating. Fizzy drinks, caffeinated drinks, coffee, or tea can also make symptoms worse.
We have shortlisted a range of treatments that you can try in the short term. Gaviscon Liquid is a good first option, as it can provide quick relief and does not interact with most medicines. As an antacid, it works to neutralise acidity, which soothes the upper gastric area quickly and forms a protective coating to prevent further acid reflux throughout the day. Gaviscon Advance tablets can also be helpful. Low-dose proton pump inhibitors are available to buy, such as esomeprazole as in Nexium Control, or H2-receptor antagonists, such as Zantac. These work in a different way to reduce the amount of acid produced – they don’t have an immediate effect but once working, they provide longer-lasting relief. Nexium Control can provide up to 24 hours of relief plus protection for the gut lining. Gaviscon Advance or other alginate antacids can be used alongside these acid suppression medications. If there is no improvement, or the constant need to neutralise the acid speak to your pharmacist or doctor.
Most symptoms resolve by themselves after a few days. If symptoms have persisted for more than a week, or pharmacy products haven’t sufficiently helped, you should speak to your doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, remedies you may have tried from the pharmacist, and they will have a feel of your tummy. They may suggest blood tests or a stool test. This is to look for H Pylori, a bacteria that can live in your stomach and increase acid production, which can cause an ulcer. If positive, this is easily eradicated with antibiotics and acid suppression medication. If this is negative, your doctor may prescribe acid suppression medication such as lansoprazole or omeprazole for a month or two to help symptoms. If you have severe stomach pain, feel unwell or faint, if you have blood in your vomit or black stools, you should seek medical attention urgently,
You are fit for work if you have gastritis, but if in a lot of pain or you have cause for concern, you should prioritise seeing your doctor.