Gastritis: A Confusing Diagnosis

gastritis When a patient enters the Emergency Room with upper abdominal pain or discomfort, the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as gastritis. However, gastritis rarely causes any symptoms at all, and it is even more uncommon that gastritis leads to abdominal pain. Most patients that are diagnosed with gastritis actually have functional abdominal pain, which is likely due to hypersensitivity of the pain receptors in the stomach or due to abnormal spasms of the gastric stomach musculature. These symptoms are stress-related and fall under the category of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Gastritis, on the other hand, can be caused by alcohol, a helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach, or autoimmune disease. These conditions can be significant but once again are rarely the source of abdominal pain.

Patients often misunderstand the word “gastritis” as “excessive gas,” yet the term is actually a compound of two Latin words meaning “inflammation of the stomach.” This inflammation of the stomach lining can only be diagnosed by an upper endoscopy procedure. The Emergency Room often sends a patient home with this diagnosis despite the fact that there are no markers for this in an ER setting. Lab testing and ultrasounds alone are unable to prove a diagnosis of gastritis.

This phenomenon of diagnosing patients with gastritis without any evidence is called “labeling.” Labeling a patient with a diagnosis can have many negative effects, such as delay in diagnosis, increased anxiety and incorrect therapy.

We recommend making an appointment with us to correctly diagnose and treat your condition.