irritation or inflammation of the
esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food
from your throat to your stomach.
Esophagitis can be painful and can make it hard to
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is the most common cause of esophagitis. When
you have GERD, stomach acid and juices flow backward into your esophagus. This
can irritate the esophagus.
Other causes include:
Common symptoms of
Sometimes it also causes:
Your doctor will ask
about your symptoms and past health. He or she may do tests such as:
The treatment you need depends
on what is causing the esophagitis. If you have esophagitis caused by
acid reflux or GERD, your doctor will likely recommend
that you change your diet, lose weight if needed, and make other lifestyle
changes. Here are some things to try:
If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to help your
esophagitis, your doctor may suggest you try medicines that reduce stomach
acid. Reducing the reflux gives the esophagus a chance to heal.
Over-the-counter medicines include:
If esophagitis is caused by an infection, you may need to
take antibiotics or other medicines to treat the infection.
If you or your child has esophagitis caused by a food allergy, your doctor
may prescribe corticosteroids.
might need surgery if you have a tear in your esophagus or if something is
blocking your esophagus, such as a tumor.
The American College of Gastroenterology is an organization of digestive disease specialists. The website contains information about common gastrointestinal problems.
The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is a group of doctors who have special training in using endoscopy to look at the digestive tract. On the website you can find a doctor in your area who does these procedures. The website also has patient education videos and patient information about endoscopic procedures.
This clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the
U.S. National Institutes of Health. The clearinghouse answers questions;
develops, reviews, and sends out publications; and coordinates information
resources about digestive diseases. Publications produced by the clearinghouse
are reviewed carefully for scientific accuracy, content, and readability.
Other Works ConsultedOrlando RC (2008). Diseases of the esophagus. In L Goldman, D Ausiello eds., Cecil Medicine, 23rd ed., pp. 998–1009. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
June 1, 2011
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
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