An irritation and inflammation of the lining of the stomach damaging the mucous lining is known as gastritis. Although usual symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, a burning sensation in the stomach, belching, unexpected fullness after eating, hiccups, weight loss, vomiting, and black stools, some sufferers do not experience any of these signs.
Gastritis is experienced in two forms: acute (which occurs suddenly) and chronic (which develops over time). Common causes are:
- The bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
- Bile reflux, a backflow of bile into the stomach
- Pernicious anemia, where Vitamin B12 is not adequately absorbed
- Severe stress
- Auto-immune dysfunction
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Cigarette smoking
- Long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Certain cancer treatments
Treatment is not always necessary since gastritis often clears up on its own. When the underlying cause is known, such as bacterial infection, medical treatment usually clears the condition rapidly.
Symptomatic treatments for gastritis caused by irritants begin with avoiding the irritating foods, followed by regular intake for a while of an antacid, an H2 blocker (histamine 2 receptor antagonist), or a proton pump inhibitor.
More complex causes often are treated symptomatically without treating the cause or causes. If inadequately treated, gastritis can lead to ulceration or even perforation of the stomach lining (see our blog entry on Ulcers).
Acupuncture as a Treatment for Gastritis
Chronic atrophic gastritis, characterized by the degradation of the mucosal lining of the stomach, has been observed to respond to acupuncture treatment where treatment by Western medicine has not been effective.
Less extreme conditions often have stress as a component, which is effectively treated with acupuncture.
Improved immune function is another positive outcome of acupuncture treatments, which is important when a bacteria, fungus or virus is involved.
Other components of the digestive system also are seen to improve with acupuncture treatments, providing both symptomatic and causative relief.
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