Gastritis vs Gastroenteritis – Symptoms, Causes, Differences

Gastritis is a common inflammation of the stomach lining. This means that the lining of the stomach becomes painful and swollen.

It can increase the risk of other gastrointestinal problems, like – stomach cancer and ulcers.


It may be acute or chronic:

  • Acute gastritis (AG) begins suddenly and usually lasts for a short time. An example of AG is stomach upset which may follow the use of certain medications (like – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin) or the consumption of alcoholic beverages; it accounts for around 2 million visits to doctors’ offices every year, in the US;
  • Chronic gastritis (CG) is determined by the appearance of the gastric mucosa with symptoms lasting a long time. Since CG occurs over a long period of time, it gradually wears away the stomach lining. This leads to dysplasia or metaplasia (the benign non-cancerous change of surfacing lining cells).


Common symptoms include:

  • heartburn;
  • abdominal pain;
  • indigestion (dyspepsia);
  • nausea;
  • loss of appetite;
  • bloating;
  • dark stools;
  • vomiting;
  • hiccups;
  • changes in bowel movements.

Note – it is possible to have CG and not have any signs or symptoms at all. Therefore, if you are asymptomatic, it is more difficult to get a correct diagnosis.


Common causes may include:

  • a backflow of bile into the stomach from the bile tract.
  • the use of certain pain relievers. such as – aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be causative factors in both the AC and CG. This occurs due to the fact that these medicines increase acidic gastric juices produced in the stomach that inflames the stomach lining.
  • viral infection, like – herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus.
  • excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can also irritate the stomach lining. In addition, individuals with a diet high in vegetable oils, fats, cholesterol, hormones, and coffee have a higher chance of developing the condition.
  • Helicobacter pylori, a pathogenic bacteria which lives in the mucous lining of the stomach. Initially, H.pylori acutely infects the stomach antrum, producing inflammation. With time, this bacterium will spread the infection over most or all of the stomach mucosa. Moreover, infections with this bacterium have been strongly associated with the development of peptic ulcer disease.


The allopathic treatment for this condition involves taking antacids or other medicines to reduce stomach acid. Taking these meds will reduce the symptoms, but they won’t provide a cure for this condition. Occasionally, antibiotics are used if the condition is caused by an H. pylori infection.

If CG is caused by pernicious anemia (a condition in which not sufficient red blood cells are produced), vitamin B12 will be given by injection.

Note – in the past, most doctors would recommend avoiding spicy foods, like – chili and cayenne pepper, however, according to the latest studies, these peppers may actually protect against stomach irritation caused by irritants, such as non-prescription medicines or alcohol.

Additionally, ginger has been shown to be effective for stomach problems.


Methods to prevent the condition include:

  • limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate the stomach lining.
  • stop using ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and any other drugs (except when it’s really necessary) which can irritate the stomach lining.
  • reduce your stress levels since emotional stress has a negative impact on the functionality of the gastrointestinal sphere. Practical ways to reduce your stress include – mindfulness meditation, moderate physical exercise, and good sleeping patterns.
  • reduce your intake of processed foods which are usually high in food additives and trans-fats.


It is the irritation of the digestive tract caused by a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. This condition is occasionally called a food poisoning, tummy bug, traveler’s diarrhea, or the trots.

Between 1999 and 2007, gastroenteritis-related deaths increased from nearly 7,000 people in the United States per year to about 17,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The main symptom is watery diarrhea and you may also feel sick and start vomiting. Other symptoms may include:

  • fever;
  • discomfort in the abdomen;
  • cramps;
  • vomiting;
  • nausea;
  • loss of appetite;
  • loss of stool control;
  • joint stiffness;
  • muscle pain;
  • excessive sweating;
  • unintentional weight loss;
  • poor feeding, especially in infants.


Viral gastroenteritis is the second-highest ailment in the US. It is caused by noroviruses, rotaviruses, adenoviruses, astroviruses, and sapoviruses, that can infect children and adults to varying degrees. These viruses can be spread from person to person as well as by the fecal-oral route.

Bacterial causes of gastroenteritis include Salmonella, Staphylococcus, E. coli, and Shigella.

Parasites, like – Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium can also cause the condition.


This condition typically resolves by itself without any allopathic medicines. The treatment is usually concentrated on preventing complications (dehydration) and reducing the symptoms.

Certain probiotics (live yeasts and bacteria which are good for your digestive system) may help to reduce the time you experience diarrhea.


Effective prevention methods include:

  • washing your hands after changing nappies, going to the bathroom, handling animals, blowing your nose, working with soil, and before eating;
  • while traveling to less developed countries, it is recommended to be cautious about where you eat and only drink bottled water.

Note – this condition can spread very easily, hence, to reduce the risk of passing it if you are ill, it is recommended to stay off school or work until at least 48 hours after the signs and symptoms have cleared.

Gastritis vs Gastroenteritis – Differences

Gastritis only affects the stomach lining and the treatment involves some medicines (even antibiotics) combined with lifestyle changes. On the other hand, gastroenteritis is a condition that affects the digestive tract and usually goes away on its own.

Images credit – Shutterstock

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