Esophagus Inflammation - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Esophagus inflammation, also known as oesphagitis or esophagitis, is the general term for any irritation or inflammation of the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

Causes of Esophagitis

According to medical experts, esophagitis is often caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which a fluid containing stomach acid or juices flows backward into the esophagus. Other causes of GERD include alcohol abuse, heavy cigarette smoking, chest surgery, herpes simplex, frequent or chronic vomiting, vitamin and mineral supplements such as potassium pills and iron, antibiotics such as tetracycline and clindamycin, medications for osteoporosis such as ibandronate and risedronate and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen and ibuprofen.

The disease can also be caused by Candida, a yeast infection that commonly affects people with weakened immune systems, especially HIV/AIDS and diabetes patients and chalasia, a condition whereby the lower end of the esophagus fails to open normally, forcing food to stay in the esophagus for long.

Symptoms of Esophagitis

The main symptom of esophagitis is heartburn, a burning sensation which commonly affects the upper part of the abdomen or the lower chest toward the neck. Other symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen, bloating, belching, belly pain, fever, trouble swallowing liquids or food, loss of appetite, coughing, vomiting, nausea, unpleasant taste in mouth, sore throat, chest pain and bad breath (halitosis).

Treatment of Esophagitis

Treatment of esophagitis depends on the cause. If it is caused by GERD or acid reflux, your physician or doctor may ask you to change your diet or lifestyle. You can do so by eating several small meals in a day instead of three large meals, eating natural foods, going to bed 3 to 4 hours after taking your meal, avoiding mint or chocolate as they can worsen GERD by relaxing the valve between the esophagus and the stomach and avoiding spicy foods that contain a lot of acid like oranges and tomatoes.

If the disease is caused by an infection, you may be given some antibiotics to fight the infection. If it comes after a medical procedure, you may need to take acid-blocking medications until you start feeling better. If it’s as a result of drug abuse, you may be asked to stop drinking or smoking. If it is caused due to taking certain medications, you may have to change those medications. In such a case, be sure to consult your doctor before changing or stopping medication.

In case your esophagus is badly damaged or scarred due to the seriousness of the disease, your doctor may recommend surgery to get rid of the portion or portions of the damaged esophagus.


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