What is gastric disease?
Gastric refers to your stomach, gastritis disease or gastritis is the inflammation of the gastric wall. The stomach wall is made up of several glands that secrete acid and enzymes that help regulate the whole digestion process in the stomach and small intestine. For instance the parietal cells in the glands are responsible to secrete hydrochloric acid which is very acidic and can be corrosive to the gastric wall if it is secreted excessively in the stomach.
There are several aggressive and protective factors towards gastritis to occur. The protective factors are continuous mucus secretion by the stomach wall, secretion of bicarbonate, increase in mucosal blood flow and prostaglandin secretion. The stomach wall also possesses a special characteristic which is the ability to regenerate. On the other hand, the aggressive factors are excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid and pepsin activity.
Whenever there is an imbalance between both the protective and aggressive factors, gastritis may happen. Some of the other causes of gastritis include infection by Helicobacter pylori, intake of spicy food, prolonged duration of steroid consumption, and burns. Some symptoms of gastritis include dull aching stomach pain associated with nausea and vomiting. It is often associated with consumption of meals and relieved temporarily with intake of milk.
What are the tests for gastric disease?
Most of the time, your doctor will diagnose you with gastritis with just a thorough medical history and clinical examination. However, in some conditions where the diagnosis is in doubt, your doctor might want to conduct a few tests to come with a final provisional or working diagnosis. Here are some of the tests that are commonly done in the clinical practice to diagnose gastritis.
An endoscope is a procedure done by inserting a scope into your mouth to visualise the gut up to the small intestine levels. Some indications of endoscopy is when your initial gastritis is not resolved with medications, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and suspicious of malignancy. During the endoscopic procedure, your doctor will visualize any changes on the wall of your stomach wall and look for signs of inflammation.
If any abnormal areas are detected, the small tissue sample(biopsy) will be taken to test for the presence of Helicobacter pylori, an organism responsible for gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.
- Tests for Helicobacter pylori
There are several tests that can be carried out to detect helicobacter pylori . Urea breath test, ELISA and stool antigen test are some of the examples. For the urea breath test, you will be asked to drink a tasteless, clear liquid that contains radioactive carbon. Helicobacter pylori will break down the radioactive carbon into small traces. You will then be asked to blow in a bag which will be sealed later. If the blowed air contains radioactive carbon, it is an indication of Helicobacter pylori presence.These tests can be done in the laboratory and your results will be out in a few days to weeks. At some occasion a blood test is done together to detect antibodies against this bacteria.
- X Ray of upper digestive system
It is commonly called as barium swallow or upper gastrointestinal series to visualise your esophagus, stomach and the small intestine in various images captured all while the barium travels all over your gut. The barium functions to coat any inflamed area or ulcers better to be visualized clearer in the radiograph images.
These are some of the common investigations commonly done in clinical practice to support the diagnosis of gastritis. Bear in mind that having a stomach pain especially central in origin is not necessarily gastritis, it can be another hazardous diagnosis such as heart attack or pancreatitis. Get consultation immediately from any doctors to evaluate you better.