What is gastropathy?
Gastropathy is a medical term for stomach diseases, especially those that affect your stomach’s mucosal lining. There are many types of gastropathy, some harmless and others more serious. If you have ongoing stomach problems, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor. They’ll help you determine the underlying cause so you can start treating the condition.
Read on to learn more about common symptoms and types of gastropathy.
Depending on the cause, gastropathy can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- fullness after meals
- acid reflux
- food regurgitation
- chest pain
Gastropathy has many possible causes. Conditions that sometimes lead to gastropathy include:
Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of your stomach. It’s often caused by an infection of Helicobacter pylori. However, it can also arise from excessive alcohol consumption and certain medications. It can come on slowly or quickly and, when left untreated, may cause stomach ulcers.
Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach muscles don’t properly push food through your digestive tract. This means your stomach can’t empty itself, which can slow down or even stop the digestion process. When this happens, you might feel extremely full and sick to your stomach, even if you haven’t eaten recently. Gastroparesis is often associated with neurological damage caused by chronic conditions, such as diabetes.
Gastroenteritis is another word for a stomach bug or stomach flu. It’s usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. It’s commonly spread by tainted food or contact with the virus or bacteria from someone else with the condition.
A peptic ulcer is a sore that develops on the mucosal lining of your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine, called the duodenum. They’re usually caused by an H. pylori infection. Overusing over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can also cause them.
Stomach cancer begins growing in part of your stomach. Most stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, which start forming in the innermost lining of your stomach.
Portal hypertensive gastropathy
Portal hypertensive gastropathy (PHG) is a complication of high blood pressure in your portal veins, which carry blood to your liver. This disrupts the flow of blood to your stomach lining, leaving it vulnerable to damage. PHG is sometimes related to cirrhosis in your liver.
If you have symptoms of gastropathy, there are several tests your doctor can do to help figure out the underlying cause. These include:
- Endoscopy. Your doctor will use an endoscope, which is a long tube with a camera at the end, to examine the upper part of your digestive system.
- H. pylori test. Your doctor may take a sample of your breath or stool to examine it for H. pylori bacteria.
- Upper gastrointestinal series. This involves taking X-rays after you drink a substance called barium, which is a chalky liquid that helps your doctor see your upper gastrointestinal tract.
- Gastric emptying study. You’ll be given a small meal containing a tiny amount of radioactive material. Next, they’ll use a scanner to track the speed at which the radioactive material moves through your digestive system.
- Ultrasound. Your doctor will place a transducer wand on your abdomen. The wand produces sound waves that a computer turns into images of your digestive system.
- Endoscopic ultrasound. This involves attaching a transducer wand to an endoscope and feeding it into your stomach through your mouth. This gives a clearer image of your stomach lining.
- Biopsy. If your doctor suspects you may have cancer, they’ll take a small tissue sample during an endoscopy and examine it for cancer cells.
Gastropathy treatment depends on what’s causing your condition. Most causes require lifestyle changes, medication, surgery, or a combination of these.
Changing some of your daily habits may help you manage the symptoms of your stomach condition.
Your doctor may recommend that you:
- avoid certain medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- eat fewer fatty foods
- avoid spicy foods
- reduce your daily salt intake
- reduce or stop your alcohol consumption
- drink more water
- add probiotic foods, such as kimchi and miso, to your diet
- avoid dairy
- eat smaller meals several times per day
Depending on the cause of your gastropathy, your doctor may recommend prescription or over-the-counter medications. Some medications work to treat the underlying cause of gastropathy, while others help you manage the symptoms.
Medications sometimes involved in gastropathy treatment include:
- proton pump inhibitors
- diabetes medications
- blood pressure medications
- histamine blockers
- cytoprotective agents to protect the lining of your stomach
- medications to stimulate stomach muscles
- anti-nausea medications
More severe types of gastropathy, such as cancer, require surgery. If you have stomach cancer, your doctor can surgically remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. In some cases, they may remove all or part of your stomach.
Your doctor might also recommend a procedure called pyloroplasty, which widens the opening that connects your stomach to your small intestine. This can help with gastroparesis and peptic ulcers.
Gastropathy is a broad term for diseases of your stomach. There are many types, ranging from typical stomach bugs to cancer. If you have stomach pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a few days, make an appointment with your doctor to figure out what’s causing it.