1 What is Esophagitis?

Esophagitis is a condition in which there is inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus.

The esophagus is the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach. It can cause painful, difficult swallowing and chest pain.

Causes of esophagitis include stomach acids backing up into the esophagus, infection, oral medications and allergies.

Treatments for esophagitis depend on the primary cause and the severity of tissue damage.

If left untreated, esophagitis can damage the mucous membrane ( lining) of the esophagus, interfere with normal function and lead to complications such as scarring, stricture and difficulty swallowing.

2 Symptoms

The symptoms of esophagitis are:

Some patients experience nausea.

3 Causes

Esophagitis can be caused by regurgitation of stomach contents from the stomach into the esophagus.

These contents that contain acid irritate the esophageal lining causing inflammation.

Infections (bacterial, viral and fungal) cause esophagitis especially in people who have a weakened immune system, for example in those with AIDS.

Other causes of esophagitis are: smoking, excessive alcohol intake, vomiting, and certain medications like doxycycline.

Radiation therapy and food allergies can also be causes of esophagitis.

4 Making a Diagnosis

The following tests may be performed in the diagnosis of esophagitis:

  • Esophageal manometry
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
  • Removing a piece of tissue from the esophagus for examination (biopsy) and upper GI series (barium swallow x-ray)

Allergy tests can also be done to identify foods that can cause irritation of the esophagus.

5 Treatment

The treatment of esophagitis is aimed at lessening of symptoms and managing the complications that come with it.

Treating the primary cause of esophagitis is one of the best methods of treatment. For example traeting reflux by giving strength medications.

Surgery can be performed to improve the esophagus ifintravenous medications to treat reflux fail.

6 Prevention

Esophagitis can be prevented by following a diet similar to that of GERD like avoiding spicy and fatty foods.

Avoiding smoking and reducing alcohol intake can also help to eleviate the symptoms of esophagitis.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Although many alternative remedies for esophagitis exist, there effectiveness has not been proven.

These may include: herbal remedies, relaxation therapiea and acupuncture.

Herbs that are used include: chamomile, slippery elm,licorice and marshmallow. These can have serious side effects so caution should be taken when they are being used.

Relaxation therapies help patents to control stress and anxiety with the hope of releiving the symptoms of esophagitis such as heartburn.

Acupuncture has been suggested as an alternative treatment since it may help people with regurgitation and heartburn.

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with esophagitis.

If left untreated, esophagitis can lead to changes in the structure of the esophagus such as erosions or ulcers.

Possible complications include: