Gastritis: Malabsorption Explained

Gastritis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of the stomach. It can occur suddenly (acute) or gradually (chronic). Malabsorption, on the other hand, is a state arising from abnormality in absorption of food nutrients across the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This article will delve into the intricate relationship between gastritis and malabsorption, exploring the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of these conditions.

Understanding the connection between gastritis and malabsorption is crucial in the medical field. This is because the stomach plays a pivotal role in the initial stages of digestion, where it secretes stomach acid and enzymes to break down food. Any inflammation or damage to the stomach lining can potentially disrupt this process, leading to malabsorption.

Understanding Gastritis

Gastritis is a condition that involves inflammation of the stomach lining. It's often caused by the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers. Regular use of certain pain relievers and drinking too much alcohol can also contribute to gastritis. Gastritis may occur suddenly (acute gastritis) or it may occur slowly over time (chronic gastritis). In some cases, gastritis can lead to ulcers and an increased risk of stomach cancer. For most people, however, gastritis isn't serious and improves quickly with treatment.

The stomach lining, also known as the gastric mucosa, plays a crucial role in protecting the stomach tissue from the corrosive effects of gastric acid. When the stomach lining is inflamed, it produces less acid, enzymes, and mucus. This can lead to digestive problems, including malabsorption.

Causes of Gastritis

The most common cause of gastritis is infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can also cause gastritis. Other causes include excessive alcohol consumption, stress, and autoimmune disorders. In some cases, gastritis can develop after major surgery, traumatic injury, burns, or severe infections. Certain diseases, such as pernicious anemia and chronic bile reflux, can also cause gastritis.

The exact cause of gastritis can vary from person to person. Therefore, it's important for doctors to consider a patient's medical history, lifestyle habits, and current medications when diagnosing the condition.

Symptoms of Gastritis

The symptoms of gastritis can vary, but most people experience upper abdominal pain or discomfort. Other common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, a feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen after eating, and anorexia. Some people may have gastritis but have no symptoms. This is known as silent gastritis.

In severe cases, gastritis can cause bleeding in the stomach, which can lead to black, tarry stools or vomiting blood. These are serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

Malabsorption and Gastritis

Malabsorption is a condition that prevents absorption of nutrients through the small intestine. When the stomach lining is inflamed due to gastritis, the production of stomach acid and enzymes can decrease. This can disrupt the normal process of digestion, leading to malabsorption.

Malabsorption can lead to a variety of health problems, including anemia, weight loss, and osteoporosis. It can also cause symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, malabsorption can lead to malnutrition, which can be life-threatening if not treated.

How Gastritis Leads to Malabsorption

Gastritis can lead to malabsorption in several ways. First, the inflammation of the stomach lining can decrease the production of stomach acid and enzymes. These substances are necessary for breaking down food into smaller particles that can be absorbed through the small intestine. Without enough stomach acid and enzymes, the process of digestion can be disrupted, leading to malabsorption.

Second, gastritis can damage the cells of the stomach lining, which can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients. For example, the stomach lining is responsible for producing a substance called intrinsic factor, which is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12. If the cells that produce intrinsic factor are damaged, it can lead to a type of anemia called pernicious anemia.

Symptoms of Malabsorption

The symptoms of malabsorption can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the nutrients that are not being properly absorbed. Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. Other symptoms can include weight loss, weakness, and fatigue. In severe cases, malabsorption can lead to malnutrition, which can cause symptoms such as anemia, osteoporosis, and poor growth in children.

It's important to note that the symptoms of malabsorption can be similar to those of other digestive disorders. Therefore, it's important for doctors to consider a patient's medical history, symptoms, and any risk factors for malabsorption when diagnosing the condition.

Diagnosis of Gastritis and Malabsorption

Diagnosing gastritis involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and specific tests. These tests may include a breath, blood, or stool test to check for H. pylori infection; an endoscopy to look at the stomach lining and take a biopsy if necessary; or a barium swallow or upper GI series to provide X-ray images of the digestive tract.

Diagnosing malabsorption can be more complex, as it involves identifying the specific nutrients that are not being properly absorbed. This may involve blood tests to check for nutrient deficiencies, stool tests to look for undigested food or fat, or specific tests for certain conditions, such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance.

Endoscopy and Biopsy

An endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to look at the inside of the stomach. During an endoscopy, a doctor will insert a thin tube with a camera on the end (an endoscope) through the patient's mouth and into the stomach. This allows the doctor to see any inflammation or damage to the stomach lining. If necessary, the doctor can also take a small sample of tissue (a biopsy) for further testing.

A biopsy can provide valuable information about the severity of the gastritis and the presence of H. pylori infection. It can also help rule out other conditions, such as stomach cancer.

Blood and Stool Tests

Blood tests can be used to check for anemia, which can be a sign of gastritis or malabsorption. They can also be used to check for H. pylori infection. Stool tests can be used to look for blood in the stool, which can be a sign of gastritis. They can also be used to look for undigested food or fat, which can be a sign of malabsorption.

It's important to note that these tests are not definitive. A patient may have gastritis or malabsorption even if these tests are normal. Therefore, these tests are often used in combination with other tests and procedures to diagnose these conditions.

Treatment of Gastritis and Malabsorption

The treatment of gastritis depends on the cause of the condition. If gastritis is caused by H. pylori infection, the treatment will involve antibiotics to kill the bacteria. If gastritis is caused by NSAIDs or alcohol, the treatment will involve avoiding these substances. In some cases, medication to reduce stomach acid may be prescribed.

The treatment of malabsorption also depends on the cause of the condition. If malabsorption is caused by celiac disease, the treatment will involve a gluten-free diet. If malabsorption is caused by lactose intolerance, the treatment will involve avoiding lactose. In some cases, vitamin and mineral supplements may be prescribed to correct nutrient deficiencies.

Medications for Gastritis

Several types of medication can be used to treat gastritis. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers can reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, which can help heal the stomach lining. Antacids can neutralize stomach acid and provide quick relief from symptoms. In some cases, a medication called sucralfate may be used to coat and protect the stomach lining.

If gastritis is caused by H. pylori infection, a combination of antibiotics will be prescribed to kill the bacteria. It's important to take all of the medication as prescribed, even if the symptoms improve before the medication is finished.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Diet and lifestyle changes can also be beneficial in managing gastritis and malabsorption. This may involve eating smaller, more frequent meals; avoiding foods and drinks that irritate the stomach, such as spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine; and reducing stress. Regular exercise and adequate sleep can also improve digestion and overall health.

For malabsorption, dietary changes will depend on the specific nutrients that are not being properly absorbed. For example, a person with celiac disease will need to follow a gluten-free diet, while a person with lactose intolerance will need to avoid lactose. A dietitian can provide personalized advice and guidance on dietary changes.


Gastritis and malabsorption are complex conditions that can significantly impact a person's health and quality of life. Understanding the connection between these conditions is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, most people with gastritis and malabsorption can manage their symptoms and live healthy, active lives.

It's important to seek medical attention if you have symptoms of gastritis or malabsorption. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve your prognosis. Remember, your healthcare provider is your best source of information about your health and treatment options.

Back to blog

Keto Paleo Low FODMAP Cert, Gut & Ozempic Friendly

1 of 12

Keto. Paleo. No Digestive Triggers. Shop Now

No onion, no garlic – no pain. No gluten, no lactose – no bloat. Low FODMAP certified.

Stop worrying about what you can't eat and start enjoying what you can. No bloat, no pain, no problem.

Our gut friendly keto, paleo and low FODMAP certified products are gluten-free, lactose-free, soy free, no additives, preservatives or fillers and all natural for clean nutrition. Try them today and feel the difference!