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Reflux gastritis is a condition in which the lining of the stomach develops inflammation as a result of exposure to bile from the pancreas. This condition can lead to the development of stomach ulcers and might cause complications for the patient. Treatments are available and might be supervised by a gastroenterologist, a medical specialist who focuses on care of the stomach and intestines. It is important to receive treatment, because this problem can become chronic and progressive.
In healthy individuals, a one-way valve at the bottom of the stomach releases the stomach contents into the intestines but blocks the contents of the intestines from going the other way. Some patients develop a problem with this valve in which it does not close fully, allowing bile into the stomach. Bile is strongly alkaline, unlike stomach acid, and it can eat into the lining of the stomach.
Gastritis can have many causes, and if a patient presents with the symptoms of stomach lining inflammation, the doctor might request some tests to learn more about the situation. In the case of reflux gastritis, patients might notice symptoms such as cramps, nausea, vomiting and poor digestion. Some foods might trigger acute episodes of stomach pain, and basic control measures such as altering the diet might not resolve the problem. The doctor can use a gastroscopy procedure to look inside the stomach, evaluate the valve at the base and take samples from any lesions in the stomach so that they can be inspected by a pathologist.
This condition is also known as bile reflux or biliary reflux gastritis, to avoid confusion with acid reflux. In acid reflux, stomach acid rises up into the esophagus because of poor control of the valve at the top of the stomach. This condition causes different symptoms, such as heartburn. It is possible for a patient to have both acid reflux and bile reflux, which can complicate treatment in addition to making the patient feel very uncomfortable.
The most conservative treatments for reflux gastritis include dietary modifications to reduce bile production and medications that will limit the body's production of bile. If the patient does not respond to treatment, the doctor might recommend surgery. During surgery, it is possible to repair the valve or to bypass the problem area to limit the change for reflux gastritis episodes in the future. Surgical recovery can be lengthy, and there are risks, so this usually is not recommended unless it is clearly necessary.