Welcome to the OutUK series looking at gay men and their health brought to you in association with the NHS website.
Each week we'll tackle a different topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We'll have features and advice on everything from relationships, sexual health, mental and physical conditions and how to stay fit. You can follow any of links provided below for more information direct from the NHS website, or view any of our Previous A to Z Features.
You should also know that OutUK has produced a special report about: Coronavirus Covid-19.

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This Week - G : Gastritis

Gastritis is when the lining of your stomach becomes irritated (inflamed). It can cause pain, indigestion and feeling sick. Treatments include antacids, alginates and antibiotics.

Check if you have gastritis

Symptoms of gastritis include:

  • tummy pain
  • indigestion
  • feeling full and bloated
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • being sick (vomiting)
  • not feeling as hungry as usual
  • burping and farting

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • you're vomiting bright red blood or your vomit looks like ground coffee
  • your poo is black, sticky and extremely smelly
  • you have severe tummy or chest pain that started suddenly

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

You have symptoms of gastritis and:

  • you've lost your appetite
  • you feel full after a very small meal
  • you've recently lost weight without trying to
  • it feels like you have a lump in your tummy
  • it's painful or difficult to swallow
  • you keep being sick

These can be serious, so they need to be checked quickly.

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

See a GP if:

  • you have tummy pain or indigestion for longer than 1 week
  • your tummy pain is getting worse or keeps coming back

Causes of gastritis

Causes of gastritis include:

  • infection with a bacteria called helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
  • taking anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as ibuprofen) and aspirin
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • being very stressed and unwell, such as after surgery

Gastritis can also be caused by a problem with your immune system where it attacks the lining of your stomach.

What happens at your GP appointment

To find out what's causing gastritis symptoms, your doctor might arrange tests such as:

  • a breath test to check for the bacteria helicobactor pylori (H. pylori); you'll be given a special drink and your breath is checked afterwards
  • a test on a sample of your poo
  • a blood test

You should be told how to get ready for a breath test around 4 weeks before it happens.

Treatment for gastritis

Treatment for gastritis depends on what's causing it.

You might need:

  • antibiotics
  • medicines to control stomach acid and stop it from rising into your food pipe (oesophagus), such as antacids, proton pump inhibitors or alginates
  • to talk to your doctor about stopping anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as ibuprofen) or aspirin and trying a different medicine, if possible
  • to stop drinking alcohol, if gastritis is caused by alcohol

If it's not treated, gastritis may get worse and cause a stomach ulcer.

If gastritis is not getting better, or it's causing severe symptoms, a GP might refer you to a specialist stomach doctor (gastroenterologist). They might do a test to look inside your stomach, called a gastroscopy.

Things you can do to help gastritis

If gastritis is causing mild indigestion symptoms, there are things you can do to help.


  • reduce the amount of drinks you have that contain caffeine, such as tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks

  • lie on an extra pillow in bed so your head and shoulders are higher, to help stop stomach acid rising up your throat while you sleep

  • lose weight if you're overweight

  • talk to your doctor if you regularly take anti-inflammatory painkillers (such as ibuprofen) or aspirin


  • do not eat 3 to 4 hours before going to bed

  • do not have food or drink that's acidic (such as orange juice), fizzy, spicy or fatty

  • do not drink alcohol

  • do not smoke

A pharmacist can help with mild indigestion

A pharmacist can recommend:

  • medicines to help stop stomach acid from irritating your stomach and oesophagus, such as antacids and alginates
  • medicines that reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes, such as proton pump inhibitors

Some indigestion medicines are taken after eating, and some are taken before eating. Check the information leaflet that comes with the medicine.

Find a pharmacy

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We'll have more information and advice next week on another topic in our A to Z of Gay Health. We have covered many subjects in this series and you can catch up with all of our Previous A to Z Features.

If you want to find out more about this week's subject you can visit the Original article on the NHS website. If you are worried by any aspect of your health make sure you go and see your doctor or book an appointment at your local clinic.

Photos: LightFieldStudios and one of VladOrlov, Stockcube, darak77, ajr_images or rawpixel.com.


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