Symptoms & Causes of Gastritis & Gastropathy

What are the symptoms of gastritis and gastropathy?

The majority of people with gastritis or gastropathy don’t have any symptoms.

In some cases, gastritis and gastropathy cause symptoms of indigestion, also called dyspepsia. Symptoms may include

  • pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • nausea or vomiting
  • feeling full too soon during a meal
  • feeling too full after a meal
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

If gastritis or gastropathy leads to erosions or ulcers, the stomach lining may bleed. If you have symptoms of bleeding in your stomach, seek medical help right away. Symptoms of bleeding in your stomach may include

  • black or tarry stool or red or maroon blood mixed with your stool
  • cramps, discomfort, or pain in your abdomen
  • feeling tired, short of breath, or light-headed
  • red blood in vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds

If you have mild bleeding in your stomach, you may have a small amount of blood in your stool and not notice it. This is called occult bleeding.

What causes gastritis and gastropathy?

Different types of gastritis and gastropathy have different causes.

Common causes of gastritis and gastropathy

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) gastritis. Infection with H. pylori bacteria causes H. pylori gastritis. Researchers are still studying how people become infected. H. pylori bacteria may spread from person to person through contact with an infected person’s vomit, stool, or saliva. Food or water contaminated with an infected person’s vomit, stool, or saliva may also spread the bacteria from person to person.

Reactive gastropathy. Reactive gastropathy is caused by long-term contact with substances that irritate the stomach lining, most often nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alcohol, and bile reflux, which is backward flow of bile from the small intestine to the stomach. Surgery that removes part of the stomach, such as some types of bariatric surgery, is the most common cause of bile reflux.

Clear cup of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) spilling out onto table.
Long-term use of NSAIDs may cause reactive gastropathy.

Autoimmune gastritis. In autoimmune gastritis, the immune system attacks healthy cells in the stomach lining.

Acute erosive gastropathy. Serious health problems—such as severe injuries or burns, critical illness, or sepsis—can reduce the blood flow to the stomach lining, causing a form of acute erosive gastropathy called stress gastritis.

Contact with substances that irritate the stomach lining—including NSAIDs, alcohol, and cocaine—can also cause acute erosive gastropathy.

Other causes of gastritis and gastropathy

Less common causes of gastritis and gastropathy include

August 2019
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.