Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining (mucosa) of the stomach. Gastritis can be caused by irritation due to excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress, or use of certain medications such as aspirin or other inflammatory drugs. It may also be caused by:

  1. Infections: bacteria and virus
  2. Bile reflux

The most common cause of gastritis is due to a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (HP). HP is a spiral-shaped, gram-negative bacterium that has adapted to thrive in acid. It was identified by two Australian doctors, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, in 1982. They got the Nobel Prize for their discovery in 2005.

HP have coexisted with humans for many thousands of years, and infection with this bacterium is common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately two-thirds of the world’s population harbors the bacterium.

The stomach produces an acid called hydrochloric acid (HCl) and this normally kill most of the living organism entering the stomach, but not HP which can live and proliferate in the acid environment because they produce ammonium that surrounds the bacteria as a “cloud” and protect them against the acid (HCl).  In addition, the helical shape of HP allows it to burrow into the mucus layer, which is less acidic than the inside space, or lumen, of the stomach.

In developing countries, HP commonly causes chronic infections and is usually acquired during childhood. In western countries, infection is less common among children but increases with age.

Most people don’t realize they have HP infection because they never get sick from it. If you develop signs and symptoms of a peptic ulcer, your doctor will probably test you for HP infection. If you have HP infection, it can be treated with antibiotics.

A number of other symptoms may be associated with H. pylori infection, including:


The exact way HP infects someone is still unknown. HP bacteria may be passed from person to person through direct contact with saliva, vomit or fecal matter. HP may also be spread through contaminated food or water.


Complications associated with HP infection include:

1. Ulcers.

HP can damage the protective lining of your stomach and small intestine. This can allow stomach acid to create an open sore (ulcer). About 10 % of people with HP will develop an ulcer.


2. Inflammation of the stomach lining.

H. pylori infection can irritate your stomach, causing inflammation (gastritis).

3. Stomach cancer. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies HP as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, in humans. It has been accepted that colonization of the stomach with HP is an important cause of gastric cancer and of gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.


In areas of the world where HP infection and its complications are common, doctors sometimes test healthy people for HP. Whether there is a benefit to treating HP when you have no signs or symptoms of infection is controversial among doctors.

People who have active gastric or duodenal ulcers or a documented history of ulcers should be tested for HP, and, if they are infected, should be treated.



  1. WebMD
  2. Mayo Clinic
  3. Nacional Cancer Institute


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About the Author Kjell H Kjellevold

A doctor and specialist in pathology. He has always been concerned about health and how to manage a good and healthy lifestyle. The blog will mainly be about the use of essential oils, health, and training.

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