What is Esophagitis?

Esophagitis is inflammation of the lining of the esophagus. The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the throat to the stomach. Esophagitis has several common causes, including infections, certain medications, allergies, and chronic acid reflux.

Esophagitis can vary in severity. In mild cases, the individual may experience heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and the feeling of food getting stuck in the throat. In more severe cases, there can be severe pain in the throat and chest, bleeding in the esophagus, and fever.

Causes of Esophagitis

Esophagitis can be caused by a number of different things, including:

  • Acid reflux: Acid from the stomach can reflux into the esophagus. This can damage the lining of the esophagus and cause inflammation.
  • Infections: Certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites can cause infection in the esophagus. These infections can cause inflammation.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as aspirin and other NSAIDs, can cause irritation and inflammation in the esophagus.
  • Allergies: Allergies can cause inflammation in the esophagus and trigger a severe reaction called eosinophilic esophagitis.

Symptoms of Esophagitis

Symptoms of esophagitis can vary from mild to severe, and some people may not experience any symptoms at all. Common symptoms of esophagitis include:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • The feeling of food getting stuck in the throat
  • Regurgitation of food or bitter tasting fluids
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Bloody stool and/or vomiting

Treatment for Esophagitis

Treatment for esophagitis depends on the underlying cause. For acid reflux, lifestyle changes such as avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals more frequently can often help. Medications such as antacids may also be prescribed. For infections or allergies, medications such as antibiotics and antihistamines may be prescribed.

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat esophagitis. Surgery may be used to repair a damaged esophagus or to remove an abnormal growth. In some cases, dietary changes or eliminating certain medications may help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms.