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Actress Taraji P. Henson recently opened up to Elle that she was diagnosed with the intestinal disease gastritis. She says that her doctors said her it was a result of her poor food choices and pressing food guilt. “It was just over a period of time, my stomach got a hole in it, and it was about to lead to an ulcer, but I caught it in time,” she says. 

But for the rest of us,  what is gastritis? And are we at risk like Taraji?

1. Taraji P. Henson Says Her Health Scare Changed Her Life

Actress Taraji P. Henson recently opened up to Elle that she was diagnosed with the intestinal disease gastritis. She says that her doctors said her it was a result of her poor food choices and pressing food guilt. “It was just over a period of time, my stomach got a hole in it, and it was about to lead to an ulcer, but I caught it in time,” she says. 

But for the rest of us,  what is gastritis? And are we at risk like Taraji?

2. What is gastritis?

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Gastritis, also known as stomach inflammation, is the erosion of the lining of one’s stomach. This inflammation is usually the result of infection with the same bacterium that causes most stomach ulcers. Gastritis can happen overtime or sneak up on you quickly.

3. What causes it?

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It depends on the person, but it’s usually caused by excessive alcohol use, chronic vomiting, stress, and taking certain meds like aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs. It can also be triggered by certain infections, bile back up in the belly and bacteria in the gut.

4. How serious is it?

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It’s definitely treatable, but if you don’t get treatment it can increase your risk of stomach cancer and lead to severe loss of blood. But here’s the good news: Most folks with gastritis get better quickly once they start treatment.

5. Speaking of treatment. . .

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There are a few strategies or meds you can take that can help such as antacids, prescription acid-blocking meds and antibiotics. If your gastritis was caused by other anti-inflammatory drugs or drinking liquor, stopping can help as well.

6. What are the symptoms?

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Gastritis can mimic other issues, but common symptoms include: Nausea or recurrent upset stomach; abdominal bloating and pain; Vomiting and indigestion; burning or gnawing feeling in the stomach between meals or at night; loss of appetite; vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material; and black, tarry stools.

7. How is it diagnosed?

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Like most illnesses, a doctor is needed confirm that you are suffering from it. This can include your doctor diagnosing you on the spot to giving you an x-ray to administering a breath test looking for bacteria to using a scope to examine your upper digestive system.

8. What else can you do?

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Taraji says she reduces her stress that was behind her gastritis by using meditation to calm her spirit. Other strategies include eating smaller, more-frequent meals; saying no to wine and spirits; passing on spicy foods; and finding pain meds that are less irritating on your stomach.

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