The stomach is an important organ in the body. It plays a vital role in digestion of foods, releases various enzymes and also protects the lower intestine from harmful organisms. The stomach connects to the esophagus above and to the small intestine below. It is intricately related to the pancreas, spleen and liver. The stomach does vary in size but its J shape is constant. The stomach lies in the upper part of the abdomen just below the left rib cage.
Examples including the name gastropathy include portal hypertensive gastropathy and Ménétrier’s disease, also known as “hyperplastic hypersecretory gastropathy”. However, there are many other stomach diseases that don’t include the word “gastropathy” such as gastric or peptic ulcer disease, gastroparesis, and dyspepsia.
Many stomach diseases are associated with infection. Historically, it was widely believed that the highly acidic environment of the stomach would keep the stomach immune from infection. However, a large number of studies have indicated that most cases of stomach ulcers, gastritis, and stomach cancer are caused by Helicobacter pylori infection. One of the ways it is able to survive in the stomach involves its urease enzymes which metabolize urea (which is normally secreted into the stomach) to ammonia and carbon dioxide which neutralises gastric acid and thus prevents its digestion. In recent years, it has been discovered that other Helicobacter bacteria are also capable of colonising the stomach and have been associated with gastritis.
Having too little or no gastric acid is known as hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria respectively and are conditions which can have negative health impacts. Having high levels of gastric acid is called hyperchlorhydria. Many people believe that hyperchlorhydria can cause stomach ulcers. However, recent research indicates that the gastric mucosa which secretes gastric acid is acid-resistant.
Gastritis and stomach cancer can be caused by Helicobacter pylori infection.
There are many types of chronic disorders which affect the stomach. However, since the symptoms are localized to this organ, the typical symptoms of stomach problems include nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramps, diarrhea and pain