Since I developed gastritis, I went to several doctors to ask for advice and medications. I went to my GP, to a gastroenterologist, to an expensive private practice which ran fancy tests, and to a homeopath. They all reached the same conclusion: you have gastritis.
I was told to eat every 3 hours, mostly rice and potatoes. I did that for a couple of weeks, but it only made me hungry the whole time and didn’t particularly help my gastritis.
I was given medications that suppress the production of stomach acid, specifically Nexium (esomeprazole). They made the pain less intense, but if I skipped a dose, I noticed how bad my gastritis actually was. I took Nexium for 2 years, but my symptoms didn’t disappear. At that point, I got worried because there was mounting evidence that acid-suppressing medications decrease bone density and contribute to hip fractures once people get older. This has only been shown for long-term users of such medications, but 2 years seemed close to long-term to me. I gradually weaned myself off of Nexium and stopped taking it altogether.
Afterwards I found out that an important consequence of taking Nexium for a long time is that minerals and vitamins are not absorbed well by the digestive system (apparently, stomach acid is necessary for that). The most common issues are low levels of magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D, which lead to decreased bone density and more fractures in the hip, spine, and wrist. B12 deficiency is also common. Honestly, I’m glad I’m not taking Nexium anymore.
Many of the doctors who saw me were convinced I had an H. pylori infection, so I got tested several times over the years. I kind of wished I had the infection because then I could have just taken an antibiotic and been done with it. First, my GP ordered a blood test, which was negative for H. pylori. A few years later, since I was still struggling with gastritis, he ordered a fecal test because that was more accurate than a blood test. Unfortunately, that was negative too. A few years later still, the gastroenterologist said that the most accurate test for H. pylori was a gastroscopy, so I had that done as well. Very unfortunately, since a gastroscopy is quite unpleasant, I had no H. pylori. The doctor confirmed that I had gastritis though, to which I said, “Well, thanks very much for the news.”
I almost wish I had an H. pylori infection because then the course of treatment would have been clear. But I didn’t have it.
Image source: El Ombligo del Ocio
The homeopath I visited was very pleasant and reassuring and actually told me that the traditional methods I was trying (such as the anti-acid medications) would not heal my gastritis. In the end, he was right, but unfortunately the treatments he gave me didn’t get me better either. So traditional medicine didn’t help me heal, but homeopathy didn’t either.
To sum up, the typical approaches to treating gastritis didn’t help me heal. I ate every 3 hours, mostly rice and potatoes, I took acid-suppressing medications, and I got tested for H. pylori, but those things didn’t help. In the next blog post, I will cover what actually helped me to get better.
Source of featured image: Static Flickr