Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Esophagitis

Inflammation - esophagus; Erosive esophagitis

 

Esophagitis refers to any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach.

Causes

 

Esophagitis is often caused by stomach fluid that flows back into the esophagus. The fluid contains acid which irritates the tissue. This problem is called gastroesophageal reflux. An autoimmune disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis also causes this condition.

The following increase your risk of esophagitis:

  • Alcohol use
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Surgery or radiation to the chest (for example, treatment for lung cancer)
  • Taking certain medicines without drinking plenty of water. These medicines include alendronate, doxycycline, ibandronate, risedronate, tetracycline, potassium tablets, and vitamin C
  • Vomiting

People who have a weakened immune system may develop infections that lead to esophagitis. Infection may be due to:

  • Fungi or yeast (most often Candida)
  • Viruses, such as herpes or cytomegalovirus

 

Symptoms

 

The infection or irritation may cause the esophagus to become inflamed. Sores called ulcers may form.

Symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Heartburn (acid reflux)
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat

 

Exams and Tests

 

The doctor may perform the following tests:

  • Esophageal manometry
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), removing a piece of tissue from the esophagus for examination (biopsy)
  • Upper GI series (barium swallow x-ray)

 

Treatment

 

Treatment depends on the cause.

  • For reflux disease, you may need to take medicines that reduce stomach acid.
  • Infections will need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis is treated with medication and possibly eliminating certain foods from your diet.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Most of the time, the disorders that cause esophagitis respond to treatment.

 

Possible Complications

 

If untreated, esophagitis may cause severe discomfort. Scarring (stricture) of the esophagus may develop. This can cause swallowing problems.

A condition called Barrett's esophagus can develop after years of gastroesophageal reflux. Rarely, Barrett's esophagus may lead to cancer of the esophagus.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of esophagitis.

 

 

References

Falk GW, Katzka DA. Diseases of the esophagus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 140.

Richter JE, Friedenberg FK. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 43.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • Esophagus and stomach anatomy

    Esophagus and stomach an...

    illustration

  • Esophagus

    Esophagus

    illustration

    • Esophagus and stomach anatomy

      Esophagus and stomach an...

      illustration

    • Esophagus

      Esophagus

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Tests for Esophagitis

       
         

        Review Date: 8/11/2014

        Reviewed By: Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
        adam.com

         
         
         

         

         

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.