Discover the Differences between Gastritis and Reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux refers to the return of the food bolus together with the acids of digestion; while gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining. To understand the differences between these two diseases we must delve a little into the anatomy, the functioning of the digestive system and the definition of some terms.

When swallowing, after chewing, the bolus (crushed food plus saliva), descends through the esophagus into the stomach. A series of muscular contractions of the walls of the esophagus ( peristaltic movement ) defines the direction of the flow that these foods will follow.

The passage between the two organs is controlled by the internal esophageal sphincter (LES). When one of the muscles that is located at the end of the esophagus does not close properly, it causes the content that is in the stomach to return or reflux into the esophagus, this is called gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

While one disease is in the stomach, the other occurs in the esophagus.

The stomach has a simple columnar epithelium that produces mucus (muciparous), which gives it protection against the extremely acidic pH of the chyme (food bolus together with hydrochloric acid, intrinsic factor and enzymes). While the esophagus has a non-keratinized stratified flat epithelium that is not able to withstand this acidity; hence the different symptoms reported by patients. 

Gastritis and Reflux Symptoms

Gastritis and Gastroesophageal Reflux

Here are the most common symptoms of gastritis and reflux that people can suffer from, so it is necessary to know how to identify them.

Gastritis:
  • Heartburn.
  • Feeling of fullness after starting to eat.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Indigestion.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Belching
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Gastroesophageal reflux:

  • Heartburn – a burning or burning sensation behind the breastbone.
  • Bitter or sour taste at the end of the throat (heartburn).
  • Excessive saliva production.
  • Chronic cough.
  • Voice change.
  • Aphonia.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Hipo.
  • Throat pain.
  • Trouble swallowing food
  • Belching
  • Return of food when lying down (regurgitation), bending over or exercising, after having eaten.
  • Acute GERD can lead to difficulty or constant sleep disruption.

Reflux worsens after changing postures, excessive meals, and types of food.

It is important that these symptoms are accurately detailed so as not to cause a misdiagnosis. It is said that 40% of people diagnosed with gastritis could only have reflux. Reflux is such a common disease that 7% of adults suffer from it on a daily basis.

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Causes

These two pathologies are recurrent and multifactorial in nature. Gastritis is caused by stress, excessive consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, medications, refined foods, fried foods, sugars, and Helicobacter pylori infections.

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Reflux is caused by the alteration of the internal esophageal sphincter LES, an increase in stomach pressure, pregnancy hormones and certain foods (cigarettes, chocolate, alcohol) weaken and relax this sphincter, preventing it from stopping the gastric contents to the esophagus. Obesity and hiatal hernia are risk factors that increase the possibility of suffering from this disease.

Also drugs such as: antidepressants, sedatives for insomnia, calcium channel blockers for hypertension, bronchodilators for asthma, contraceptive progestogens, dopaminergics for Parkinson’s, etc. They can weaken the contraction of this sphincter.

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Treatment:

Gastritis caused by bad habits is cured with a change in the diet; while those caused by H. pylori are treated with drugs (antibiotics, antacids).

Gastroesophageal reflux is treated according to its condition: mild is treated with changes in lifestyle, moderate is prescribed proton pump inhibitors, and in more severe cases surgeries ( fundoplication) are applied to restore the function of the LES.

Complications:

Chronic gastritis can condition an ulcer when it is produced by H. pylori or the consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

A recurrent gastroesophageal reflux causes esophagitis which can lead to:

  • Lesion in the epithelium (ulcer).
  • A decrease in the diameter of the esophagus either from fibrosis or edema (esophageal stricture).
  • Loss of peristaltic movement (esophageal dysmotricity).
  • Barret’s esophagus, when the esophagus epithelium undergoes metaplasia by becoming stomach epithelium to better withstand heartburn. Having a 50% chance of developing a malignant tumor.
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recommendations

-Do not lie down after eating.

-If you are a chronic patient in bed, raise the head 20 cm.

-Reduce the amount and increase the frequency of meals.

-Less weight if it were the case.

-Substitute coffee for infusions of: chamomile, lemon verbena or thyme.

-Substitute fried foods for steamed, boiled or baked foods.

-Avoid drinking liquids with meals.

These are effective recommendations to put into practice and thus avoid all these discomforts that can torment us. Always remember to visit your doctor, and most of all, make changes to the food pyramid of your diet.

Remember that a healthy diet will help you greatly to control any disease in general; avoid those drugs that can cause reflux, exercise, control your weight, avoid sugars or processed foods and consume more fruits and vegetables.

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