How Chronic Gastritis Is Treated

Chronic gastritis is a health condition that leads to the inflammation of the stomach lining. The most common cause of gastritis is an infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. Other causes include excessive alcohol use, autoimmune disorders, stress, viral infections, and frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The typical symptoms of chronic gastritis are dyspepsia (indigestion), upper abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, and feeling overly full after eating. In severe cases, you may experience signs of bleeding in your stomach, dark stools, stomach cramps, fatigue, and blood in your vomit.

This article will go over the most common treatments for chronic gastritis, including lifestyle changes, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, prescription drugs, and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Woman with stomach pain speaking to doctor

Natalia Gdovskaia / Getty Images

Lifestyle

Some symptoms of chronic gastritis can be managed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Reducing alcohol intake: Excessive alcohol use can lead to chronic gastritis, especially in combination with other drugs (such as cocaine). Lowering your alcohol intake may decrease your risk of long-term complications. 
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk of chronic gastritis and related complications, such as ulcers and stomach cancer. Smoking can also make it harder for you to control your gastritis symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to quit smoking.
  • Changing diet: People with chronic gastritis tend to experience more symptoms—such as acid reflux and bloating—when they eat certain foods. Making dietary changes, such as eating fewer spicy, salty, and acidic foods, eating smaller meals, and eating more slowly, may work to reduce your gastritis symptoms.
  • Managing stress: Chronic stress increases the risk of gastritis and gastric cancer, possibly due to the effects of stress on your immune system and inflammatory responses. Managing your stress levels with mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises, and counseling can help.

If you have chronic gastritis due to long-term use of pain relief medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), your healthcare provider might recommend that you switch to a different medication.

Chronic Gastritis vs. Acute Gastritis

Acute gastritis tends to appear suddenly, and symptoms are usually severe. Meanwhile, the symptoms of chronic gastritis come on gradually and can last for years (or even a lifetime).

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

If you have chronic gastritis, there are several OTC medications that can help to manage your indigestion symptoms. These include:

  • Antacids: Antacids, such as Mylanta (aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone) treat indigestion by neutralizing stomach acid.
  • Histamine 2 (H2) blockers: H2 blockers, such as Pepcid (famotidine), work to treat peptic ulcers and treat acid reflux by reducing the amount of acid produced by your stomach. You may need to get a prescription from a healthcare provider for larger doses of H2 blockers.

Prescriptions

The following medicines are often prescribed to treat chronic gastritis and prevent potential complications, such as ulcers and bleeding:

  • Antibiotics: If you have H. pylori gastritis, your healthcare provider will typically treat your underlying infection with two or more antibiotics. It’s important to take all your antibiotics exactly as prescribed to kill off all the H. pylori bacteria and avoid antibiotic resistance (when bacteria develop the ability to fight off drugs designed to kill them). About a month after you’ve completed your course of antibiotics, your healthcare provider might perform tests to make sure you no longer have an H. pylori infection.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs, such as Prilosec (omeprazole), treat both dyspepsia and peptic ulcers. They can also stop new peptic ulcers from forming. Some PPIs are sold over the counter, depending on the dosage. 
  • Bismuth subsalicylate: Bismuth subsalicylate reduces intestinal inflammation and kills diarrhea-causing bacteria. It is sometimes prescribed alongside antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors as part of “triple therapy” or “quadruple therapy” to kill H. pylori bacteria.

Complications of Chronic Gastritis

Chronic gastritis can lead to severe health complications—such as peptic ulcers, atrophic gastritis (in which the stomach lining is severely damaged), and gastric cancer (stomach cancer)—if left untreated. Early treatment and management of gastritis symptoms can reduce your risk of cancer.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Autoimmune gastritis—a type of chronic gastritis that causes your immune system to destroy healthy cells—can sometimes lead to pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency). If you have autoimmune gastritis, your healthcare provider may recommend that you take the following supplements:

Though current research is inconclusive, there is some early evidence that certain vitamins and minerals can lower the risk of long-term H. pylori infections. Studies suggest that the following anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting supplements may help to decrease the effects of H. pylori gastritis:

Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements.

Summary

Chronic gastritis is a medical condition that causes long-lasting symptoms of indigestion, such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, feeling too full, stomach pain, and heartburn. It can be caused by a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterial infection, excessive alcohol use, excessive use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), autoimmune disorders, viral infections, or extreme stress. In some cases, chronic gastritis can increase the risk of complications such as bleeding in the stomach, peptic ulcers, and stomach cancer.

H. pylori gastritis is typically treated with prescription medications, such as antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Bismuth subsalicylate may be prescribed along with antibiotics and PPIs as part of triple or quadruple therapy for H. pylori infections. Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, such as histamine 2 (H2) blockers and antacids, can help with the symptoms of indigestion. Helpful lifestyle changes for chronic gastritis include dietary changes, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, and stress management. Vitamin and mineral supplements, such as iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid, may be recommended if you have autoimmune gastritis.

A Word From Verywell

It’s important to treat chronic gastritis early to decrease your risk of complications, such as stomach cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms of indigestion that are getting worse or aren’t going away.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Laura Dorwart
Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with particular interests in mental health, pregnancy-related conditions, and disability rights. She has published work in VICE, SELF, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Week, HuffPost, BuzzFeed Reader, Catapult, Pacific Standard, Health.com, Insider, Forbes.com, TalkPoverty, and many other outlets.