What is esophagitis?

Esophagitis is irritation or swelling esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. There are several types of esophagitis, all of which are often accompanied by symptoms such as painful swallowing and heartburn. Treatment varies by cause, but options usually include medication, dietary changes, and sometimes surgery.

This article provides an overview of esophagitis and outlines symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

Types of Esophagitis

There are many types of esophagitis, and they all have different underlying causes.

  • Reflux esophagitis is the most common type and occurs when you have a digestive disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Infectious esophagitis is caused by a fungal, yeast, viral, or bacterial infection that irritates the esophagus.
  • Erosive esophagitis occurs when chemicals are ingested and eventually burn the esophagus.
  • Drug-induced esophagitis results from prolonged exposure to pills such as antibiotics or aspirin, which disrupt the protective barrier of the esophagus.
  • eosinophilic esophagitis Caused by an allergic or immune response to food or environmental irritants.
  • Radiation-induced esophagitis occurs as a result of irritation following radiation therapy used to treat cancer.
  • Systemic disease esophagitis occurs when a systemic (systemic) disease makes the esophagus more likely to become inflamed.

Esophagitis symptoms

With esophagitis, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, or pain when swallowing is usually present.

Other symptoms may include:

  • sore throat
  • feeling like something is stuck in throat
  • burning sensation in the esophagus
  • cough
  • hoarse
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever

When to see a healthcare provider

  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have any signs of esophagitis that persists for more than a few days and is severe enough to make it difficult to eat or sleep.
  • If you have persistent chest pain, food stuck in your throat, shortness of breath after eating, or difficulty breathing or speaking, call 911 or seek emergency medical care.


The lining of the esophagus is sensitive, so it is sometimes prone to irritation and swelling. Several factors can increase your risk of developing esophagitis, including:

  • Acid reflux: In people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach acid can back up into your food pipe. This usually occurs when the muscles at the end of the esophagus do not close properly. It can also be triggered by pregnancy, obesity, smoking, drinking alcohol, drinking carbonated beverages, or eating fatty or spicy foods.
  • Excessive vomiting: The acid contained in vomit can irritate the esophagus, and excessive vomiting can lead to further inflammation.
  • Medication use: Certain medications, such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and naproxen), antibiotics, vitamin C supplements, and potassium chloride can cause prolonged exposure to the protective lining of the esophagus. damage for a period of time. This happens when there is not enough water for flushing and swallowing the pill.
  • Infections: Infections caused by viruses such as herpes simplex virus, yeast, etc. (Candida), otherwise the bacteria can irritate the esophagus. This is most common in people with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS or a recent organ transplant, but can also occur in people with normal immune systems.
  • Chemical irritation: Accidental or intentional ingestion of strong chemicals, such as household bleach, drain cleaners, or cleaners, can cause damage to the esophagus. The more exposure to the chemical, the more severe (and potentially life-threatening) irritation can occur. Ingestion of strong bases, such as plumbing or drain cleaners, is one of the most dangerous types of ingestion because alkalis can liquefy tissue.
  • Radiation injury: Radiation therapy for cancer, especially in the chest or neck area, can sometimes cause esophagitis. The lining of the esophagus is sensitive to inflammation and can begin to thin or wear away after radiation.
  • Systemic disorders: Certain disorders that affect the entire body can lead to the development of esophagitis.This includes the following conditions sclerodermaInflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Behçet’s disease, or Sjogren’s syndrome.
  • Allergic/immune reactions: The esophagus’ response to food or irritants contributes to development eosinophilic Esophagitis, a serious chronic autoimmune disease.


Your healthcare provider will start by doing a physical exam, reviewing your medical history and discussing your symptoms.

From there, you’ll likely get at least one of the following diagnostic tests:

  • endoscopy: This procedure uses an endoscope (a tube with a light and camera) to look directly into the esophagus. It allows healthcare providers to check the food pipe for signs of inflammation.
  • biopsy: If your provider notices any inflammation or ulcers in your esophagus, they may take a small sample of these tissues or cells to test in the lab.
  • Barium X-ray: The provider will take an X-ray of your esophagus while you ingest a special solution (barium) that coats the lining of the esophagus and provides a clear picture of the esophagus.
  • Esophageal manometry: This test measures how well your esophagus is working by inserting a tube into your nose, esophagus and into your stomach.
  • Allergy testing: If your provider suspects that your esophagitis may be caused by an allergic or immune reaction, they may order a skin prick test, blood test, or food patch test to narrow down food or environmental allergens .


Treatment options for esophagitis depend on the cause. These options may include medications, diet and lifestyle changes, or possible surgery.

Common treatments include:

  • Medication: Depending on the cause of the suspected esophagitis, different medications may be prescribed. If GERD is the cause of esophagitis, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) is usually recommended to reduce acid. corticosteroids May help reduce inflammation caused by esophagitis associated with systemic disease. Antibiotics, antifungals, or antivirals may be prescribed for infectious esophagitis.
  • Discontinuation of medication: On the other hand, if your esophagitis is caused by a medication, your healthcare provider may recommend discontinuing the medication or ordering a liquid version, if available. Remember, you should never stop taking your medicine without your prescribing provider’s prior approval.
  • Lifestyle changes: Cases of esophagitis due to acid reflux or allergens can be resolved with dietary or environmental changes. Once you’ve identified the culprit, your provider can help you avoid or replace the food or irritant that’s triggering your esophagitis. They may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as eating slowly, losing weight, or quitting smoking.
  • Operation: Nissen fundoplication It is a surgical method for the treatment of esophagitis associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease. The surgeon will strengthen the sphincter (tighten the muscle) at the bottom of the esophagus to reduce acid reflux.
  • Esophageal dilation: This procedure may help if your esophagus is narrowed by scarring from acid reflux. It involves using a special tube or surgical balloon to physically open the esophagus.

complications of esophagitis

Esophagitis can be painful and uncomfortable if left untreated. To avoid any unnecessary complications, such as difficulty swallowing or eating, bleeding, strictures or ulcers in the esophagus, contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible. They will be able to provide diagnostic and therapeutic relief.


Many types of esophagitis respond well to treatment. But if left untreated, esophagitis can have serious consequences.

GERD-related esophagitis has the potential to develop into a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, in which the lining of the esophagus is damaged by stomach acid. This may increase your risk of esophageal cancer.

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to getting the best prognosis, so if you suspect you may have some form of esophagitis, be sure to contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and developing better digestive habits, can help manage symptoms and address the underlying cause of esophagitis.


Esophagitis is irritation or inflammation of the esophagus, the tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. Esophagitis has many different causes, from acid reflux to chemical irritation to food allergies. Depending on the cause, treatment may include prescription drugs, dietary changes, or surgery.

VigorTip words

Having a digestive disorder like esophagitis is not only physically uncomfortable, but emotionally overwhelming. People diagnosed with certain types of esophagitis are at increased risk for anxiety and depression. But can help. If you think you may need an outside support system, seek a referral from a health care provider for a mental health professional to address any concerns and learn new tools for effective coping.