Difference Between Ulcer and Gastritis

Ulcer vs Gastritis

In the world today, we come across a lot of people who are complaining of abdominal pain associated with a burning sensation, and it is more common in those who take painkillers in the form of NSAIDs. When describing these symptoms, people tend to use gastritis and ulcers interchangeably. But, people are not well aware that ulcer and gastritis are two separate conditions, and the treatment and management for these conditions require separate approaches, as the diagnosis and even the complications differ. Both these conditions involve the stomach and the lining of the stomach, but not always limited to the stomach.


An ulcer is an erosion in the epithelial layer, and in this instance, in the stomach or the proximal duodenum. Thus, it is specifically termed as peptic ulcer. Risk factors like excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, NSAIDs, and infection by H.pylori affect the protective epithelial layer of the stomach, and this causes the disruption leading to the formation of ulcer, which causes pain and discomfort in the upper abdomen, feeling of fullness, and nausea along with chest pain, fatigue, vomiting of blood, and black stools, if complicated. Upper GI endoscopy and a barium meal help to elucidate the exact location of the ulcer. The management consists of H.pylori eradication therapy, and continued use of proton pump inhibitors, if the use of NSAIDs are unavoidable. This condition can get complicated with a perforated ulcer, leading to bleeding and peritonitis or gastric outlet obstruction.


Gastritis is a condition, where the lining of the stomach wall is inflamed or swollen. The main causative factors of gastritis are the same as for gastric ulcers; alcohol, NSAIDs, and H.pylori infection. Corrosive substances, cocaine abuse, psychological stress, and viral infections are some of the other factors that contribute to this condition. While most of those who are having gastritis may be asymptomatic, the majority of the symptoms involve upper abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and loss of appetite, which may be complicated with, black tarry stools and blood vomiting. Investigative methods involved are, full blood count, upper GI endoscopy and H.pylori tests. Management strategies involve, use of antacids, histamine type 2 receptor inhibitors, and proton pump inhibitors, along with controlling the unnecessary use of NSAIDs.

What is the difference between Ulcer and Gastritis?

Both these conditions involve the epithelial lining of the stomach and disruptions to the integrity. The causative factors and the risk factors for both these conditions are most of the time similar, with gastritis having a more psychological aspect. The symptoms like upper abdominal pain, nausea, and the complications are common to both. Both require similar investigations, and the symptomatic management of both are similar as well. But ulcers cause, dyspeptic symptoms more and it show ulcerated surfaces on endoscopy and defective surfaces on the barium meal.

The management involves a direct eradication therapy, and if required, surgical options for ulcers. The management of gastritis is not so elaborate, and mostly symptomatic. Ulcers tend to present more with acute complications like perforations with threats to the life, but complications of gastritis are long term, but may become threats to the life nonetheless.

These two consist of a constellation of symptoms, which need to be run through with a fine toothed comb to avoid miscommunications regarding the diagnosis. This is because one of these complications can be life threatening in acute situations. Both of them can be life threatening in the long run.