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Gastritis vs Gastroenteritis – Differences

This article reveals the differences between gastritis and gastroenteritis:


The term “gastritis” refers to an inflammation of stomach mucosa. It was first used in 1728 by Georg Ernst Stahl, a German physician.

In the US, H. pylori infection associated with gastritis is more common in Hispanics, African Americans, and the elderly. Due to an increased risk for H. pylori infection, the condition is more common in adults over the age of 60.


  • acute gastritis – it starts suddenly and lasts for a short time. AG can be broken down into two categories – nonerosive (usually caused by H. pylori) and erosive (e.g., deep erosions, superficial erosions, hemorrhagic erosions);
  • chronic gastritis – it is long-lasting and has as a main causal factor the H. pylori infection. If CG is not treated properly, it may last for many years. CG can be further classified into Type A, Type B, and Type C;
  • atrophic gastritis – it is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa with loss of gastric glandular cells;
  • erosive gastritis – it is a result of excessive stress, however, though there can be other factors, including – infection, injury, high alcoholic drinks intake, autoimmune disorders, and increased use of NSAIDs.


It is an inflammation of the intestines and stomach, mostly caused by viral, parasitic, or bacterial infections.

Worldwide, the condition is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity, accounting for about 1.9 million deaths every year in kids under five years old.

In the United States, over 179 million cases of acute gastroenteritis occur per year.



The most common symptoms include:

  • changes in  the appearance of stools (poop might be darker than usual);
  • changes in bowel movements;
  • burping;
  • burning sensations in or above the stomach, particularly around the time of eating;
  • hiccups;
  • experiencing changes in weight;
  • stomachaches or pains;
  • feeling very full quickly;
  • loss of appetite;
  • stomach bloating;
  • vomiting;
  • feeling nauseous.


Common symptoms can include:

  • generally feeling unwell, including body aches and lethargy;
  • loss of appetite;
  • pus in the stools;
  • bloody stools;
  • bloating;
  • diarrhea;
  • nausea;
  • abdominal pain;
  • abdominal cramps;
  • vomiting.

Note – these symptoms usually start suddenly and last for 1 to 2 days in healthy adults, nevertheless, the symptoms can last up to 10 days in the elderly, young children, and people who have suppressed immune systems.


Certain forms of gastritis can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer, especially in individuals with thinned stomach linings. If your condition is left untreated, it can lead to stomach ulcers or bleeding.

Possible complications of gastroenteritis can include:

  • hemolytic-uremic syndrome (a condition which is characterized by the destruction of low platelet count, red blood cells, and kidney failure);
  • sugar intolerance;
  • febrile convulsions;
  • electrolyte imbalance;
  • dehydration.


There are many possible causes of gastritis, such as:

  • infection with viral, parasitic, or bacterial organisms, especially H. pylori;
  • other conditions, like – Crohn’s disease or HIV;
  • the use of certain medications, like – aspirin,  steroids, ibuprofen, or potassium;
  • vitamin B12 deficiency;
  • autoimmune disorders, like – pernicious anemia;
  • growing older;
  • excessive alcohol intake;
  • stress;
  • surgical procedures in the gastric area;
  • chronic vomiting;
  • ingestion of chemicals;
  • caffeine consumption.

Possible causes for gastroenteritis include:

  • medications, especially antibiotics;
  • viruses, like – calicivirus, rotavirus, norovirus,  astrovirus, and adenovirus;
  • chemicals – lead poisoning, for instance, can trigger gastroenteritis;
  • bacterial toxins – some strains of staphylococcal bacteria may produce toxins that can cause the condition;
  • parasites, like – Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cryptosporidium;
  • Campylobacter bacterium infection.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for gastritis can include:

  • intake of caustic or corrosive substances;
  • excess gastric acid secretion due to emotional stress;
  • chronic vomiting;
  • alcohol consumptions;
  • medications, like – aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Risk factors for gastroenteritis can include:

  • long-term use of steroids;
  • medical conditions, like – HIV, diabetes mellitus, cancers;
  • having a low immunity, like – seniors or children;
  • smoking tobacco and second-hand smoking (lowers your immunity);
  • intake of contaminated water and food;
  • close contact with suferrers who have the condition;
  • the use of unclean utensils;
  • regular alcohol intake;
  • poor hygiene, like – dirty kitchens or unwashed hands;
  • eating milk products, undercooked meat, junk foods, and canned food.

Note – outbreaks of the condition are also more frequent among people living in closed communities, like – students living in dormitories, at daycare centers, cruise ship crews, or military personnel.

This happens due to the fact that these environments help the spread of infection from one person to another.


Gastritis can be diagnosed by blood, stool, breath, immunological, and biopsy tests to detect Helicobacter pylori.

Your doctor can use other tests, like – endoscopy or radiologic studies to demonstrate mucosal changes.

Also, the diagnosis can be made by examining the patient’s symptoms and medical history (for instance, alcohol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs consumption).

Gastroenteritis can be diagnosed by a stool test that can check the presence of certain pathogenic bacteria or viruses. Additionally, for some microorganisms (like – campylobacter, shigella, or salmonella) determination of specific antibodies can be used.

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The condition is usually mild and resolves without any treatment.

Taking proton pump inhibitors until the symptoms improve may be recommended by your doctor.

For H. pylori in the digestive tract, your healthcare provider may prescribe a combination of antibiotics, like – amoxicillin (brand names -Augmentin and Amoxil) or clarithromycin (brand name – Biaxin).


If it is caused by a bacterium, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics. When it is caused by a virus, typically there is no treatment required (antibiotics don’t work on viruses). It just takes time for the viral infection to run its course.


  • to prevent dehydration, you must replace lost fluids and electrolytes;
  • avoiding anti-diarrhea or anti-vomiting medications unless prescribed by your healthcare provider as these drugs will keep the infection inside the body for a longer time;
  • avoid certain substances and foods until you feel better. These include – caffeine (found in coffee, chocolate, some teas, sports drinks), dairy products (cheese, butter, non-vegan pizza, milk, yogurt), nicotine, alcohol, and fatty foods.

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Bottom Line – Gastritis vs Gastroenteritis

Gastritis is a very common condition that occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes swollen. Acute gastritis involves sudden inflammation, whereas chronic gastritis involves long-term inflammation. A major cause of both forms is the infection with Heliobacter pylori.

Gastroenteritis is defined as inflammation and swelling of the intestines and the stomach caused by pathogenic bacteria or viruses. Common symptoms include –  diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. In the majority of cases, the condition heals itself within four days.

In conclusion, gastroenteritis affects both the stomach and the intestines, while gastritis only directly affects the stomach.

Image source – Shutterstock

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