Esophagitis: Overview

Esophagitis is an inflammation of the lining of the esophagus – the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.  The lining of the esophagus becomes inflamed because of an infection or something that has irritated the lining.

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Causes and Development

Causes include: infections by organisms such as candida, cytomegalovirus (CMV), or herpes simplex; diseases and conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV; poorly-controlled diabetes; immunodeficiency disorders; chemotherapy; long-term steroid use; malnutrition; chemicals that are swallowed; pills that become stuck in the esophagus; medications and supplements such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), alendronate, doxycycline, iron, or potassium; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  Conditions such as GERD can irritate and narrow the esophagus.

Signs and Symptoms

Difficulty swallowing; throat pain that can range from mild to severe; a feeling that something is stuck in the throat; nausea or vomiting; loss of appetite; reluctance to eat because of pain while swallowing; fast breathing; chest pain; blood in the stools; increased salivation or drooling.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment is directed at the cause and may include: antibiotics, antiviral, or antifungal medications for infections; medications to treat underlying conditions, such as GERD or diabetes; maintaining a healthy lifestyle; surgery to repair the esophagus.

Although prevention of esophagitis is not always possible, there are some wise measures that one can take.  Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol intake may decrease the risk of esophagitis.  Other ways to decrease the risk include: eating a nutritious diet; getting adequate rest; practicing safer sex; getting proper treatment for GERD; always taking pills with adequate amounts of liquid and at least 15 minutes before lying down.

Prognosis; Complications

If the cause of the esophagitis is an infection, and the infection is treated, the inflammation is likely to improve.

If a chemical such as lye, bleach, or gasoline is ingested, the esophagus can perforate, or rupture.  This esophageal perforation can be fatal.

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Signs, symptoms & indicators of Esophagitis:

Symptoms - Respiratory

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Recommendations for Esophagitis:



Tissue damaged by esophagitis has demonstrated an enhanced recovery rate with adequate zinc intake.

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