What is esophagitis?
Esophagitis is a redness and inflammation of the lining of the esophagus, the swallowing tube that connects the throat to the stomach.
What causes esophagitis?
Esophagitis is caused by an irritation or infection in the esophagus. Irritation can be caused by:
- acid from your stomach backs up in to your esophagus (GERD-GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease)
- medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).
An infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or diseases that weaken the immune system.
What are the symptoms of esophagitis?
Some people have no symptoms. Others may have some symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, gas pain, excessive belching, hoarseness, sore throat, coughing, chest pain and trouble swallowing. Please call your doctor if your symptoms get worse.
How is esophagitis treated?
Treatment for esophagitis depends on its cause. During your upper endoscopy, a biopsy, or a small sample of the esophageal tissue, is removed and sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope to determine an exact cause of your esophagitis.
Many times medication that blocks the stomach from producing acid is recommended.
For people with symptoms, some general guidelines to reduce stomach acid and reflux (GERD) are:
- Avoid foods that increase reflux of acid into the esophagus like greasy, spicy and fatty foods, citrus, chocolate, onion, tomato sauces and peppermint.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks and caffeine products.
- Avoid large meals, eat slowly, and eat 4 to 5 small meals a day.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not eat anything for at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Do not bend over or lie down immediately after eating.
- Avoid tight fitting pants, belts, and undergarments.
- Lose weight if overweight.
- Do not strain during bowel movements, urination, or lifting.
- Raise the head of your bed 4-6 inches with wooden blocks or bricks. Gravity then helps keep stomach acid out of the esophagus while sleeping.
What is the prognosis for esophagitis?
Esophagitis and symptoms usually respond to treatment. However some causes may require long–term treatment. Constant irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid can lead to ulcers, bleeding, scarring and narrowing of the esophagus. Continued exposure to the acid from your stomach can change the inner lining of your esophagus, called Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus increases your risk of developing dysplasia (abnormal cells growing) and esophageal cancer. Your doctor will let you know your treatment plan based on your biopsy results.