What exactly is stomach atrophy, and how is it different from somebody just having a stomach ulcer? I've been to many doctors over the years about my digestive system, and now it seems like they have begun using the terms interchangeably?
Stomach atrophy and stomach ulcers are two different pathologic processes, and these terms should not be used interchangeably to describe the appearance of the stomach. A stomach ulcer occurs when there is a localized breakdown in the protective lining of the stomach. When this breakdown reaches down and extends through the muscular layer of the mucosal surface, it is defined as an ulcer. Typically ulcers are brought about by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents or a bacterial infection known as Helicobacter pylori in the setting of weakened acid defense system.
Stomach atrophy is an often-used term to describe the process of atrophic gastritis. This refers to a chronic state of inflammation of the lining of the stomach, in which the normal cells and glands are eventually replaced by fibrotic tissue and cells typically found in the intestine. The two main mechanisms that are behind the changes seen in patients diagnosed with atrophic gastritis are autoimmune disease and chronic Helicobacter pylori infection. As large segments of the stomach may be affected in atrophic glossitis, the stomach's ability to functional normally may be severely compromised. This can lead to problems with digestion and complications of B12 deficiency, including anemia.
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