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Reactive Gastropathy vs. Gastritis: What's the Difference?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 24, 2021

Gastropathy or gastritis? Both affect your stomach lining, or mucosa. If you've received either diagnosis, it's easy to confuse the two. However, these conditions are different and affect your body in different ways. 

Gastritis is a medical term that describes inflammation in your stomach lining. Gastropathy means your stomach lining is damaged but not inflamed. Gastropathy and gastritis may be chronic, which means they develop slowly over time, or they may be acute, appearing suddenly and lasting only a short time. Some types of gastropathy and gastritis cause tiny breaks called erosions in your stomach lining that can lead to ulcers

What is Reactive Gastropathy?

Reactive gastropathy is also called chemical gastritis and is a result of common chemicals that irritate the stomach lining. 

What Causes Reactive Gastropathy?

Reactive gastropathy is a result of the long-term use of alcohol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It may also be caused by acid reflux, a condition in which stomach acids flow backward from your small intestine to your stomach. 

What Are the Symptoms of Reactive Gastropathy?

Some people with gastropathy don't have any symptoms. Others may experience indigestion, or dyspepsia, as well as the following:

  • Stomach pain, typically in the upper abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Feelings of fullness during or after a meal
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Left untreated, gastropathy may cause erosions or ulcers, or even cause your stomach lining to bleed. If you are experiencing a combination of the following symptoms, call your doctor right away:

Sometimes you will have mild bleeding in your stomach but may not notice any blood in your stool, a condition known as occult bleeding.

What Is the Treatment for Reactive Gastropathy?

Treatments depend on what is irritating your stomach. If you take NSAIDs regularly and notice symptoms, your doctor may tell you to take a break or suggest a different medication to alleviate your pain. 

If acid or bile reflux is the cause of your reactive gastropathy, your provider may suggest medicines that heal the stomach lining or surgery to stop excess bile from flowing into your stomach. 

What Is Gastritis?

Gastritis is a medical term for inflammation of the stomach lining. 

This condition may be acute (occur suddenly) or chronic (develop slowly). Severe gastritis may lead to ulcers and can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. Typically, it's not serious and improves after treatment.

What Causes Gastritis?

The most common cause of gastritis is a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, or h. pylori , which causes stomach inflammation. The bacteria weakens your stomach lining, which allows digestive juices to damage the mucosa. Certain diseases, like Crohn's disease, can increase your risk of developing gastritis. 

What Are the Symptoms of Gastritis?

Like gastropathy, gastritis symptoms are not always obvious. Sometimes, you won't have any, or you may mistake them for indigestion. Symptoms include: 

Gastritis isn’t contagious, but you may be exposed and infected with the bacteria, h. pylori, through contaminated food or water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before you make or eat food. 

What Is the Treatment for Gastritis?

Your provider will treat your gastritis depending on its cause. There are certain medications that kill bacteria, while other treatments alleviate indigestion. Gastritis treatment includes:

Antibiotics. These kill the bacterial infection. You may have to take more than one type for a few weeks.

Antacids. These medications are made of calcium carbonate, which reduces stomach acid and helps relieve inflammation. 

Histamine (H2) blockers. Medications like Cimetidine (Tagamet®), and ranitidine (Zantac®) help reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces. 

Proton pump inhibitors. Omeprazole (Prilosec®) and esomeprazole (Nexium®) also reduce acid production and are also used to treat stomach ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

Show Sources

SOURCES: 

Cleveland Clinic: "Gastritis."

Mayo Clinic: "Gastritis." 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Definition & Facts for Gastritis & Gastropathy." 

PubMed: "Gastritis and gastropathy."

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Treatment of Gastritis & Gastropathy."

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