Esophagitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Risk Factors and Treatment


Basically you could say that esophagitis is irritation or inflammation of the esophagus. Now, the esophagus is the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

Something that should be kept in mind regarding the disease is that it can be painful and can make swallowing almost impossible.


Many doctors have determined that gastroesophageal reflux disease is the most common cause of esophagitis. When you have these refluxes, stomach acid and juices flow back into your esophagus. And this could irritate the esophagus more than I would expect.

There may be other causes of this disease, which could be related to:

  • A hiatal hernia.
  • Medications that irritate the esophagus, such as:
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.
  • Medications for osteoporosis (bisphosphonates), such as alendronate, ibandronate, or risedronate.
  • Antibiotics such as clindamycin or tetracycline.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements, such as vitamin C, iron and potassium.
  • Cases of Infection People who have a weak immune system are more likely to get esophagitis. This includes people with HIV, diabetes or kidney problems, as well as elderly people and people taking steroid medications.
  • Radiation therapy
  • Certain diseases that hinder swallowing, such as scleroderma.
  • Allergies, often food allergies, especially seafood, milk, nuts, soy, or eggs.

What are the symptoms of esophagitis?

Common symptoms of esophagitis include:

  • Acidity.
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Problems swallowing food or liquids.
  • Pain in the chest (may be similar to the pain of a heart attack).
  • Tos.

Sometimes it also causes:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever.
  • Intestinal pain


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and your previous health condition. He or she can do tests such as:

  • An endoscopy During this test, the doctor places a thin flexible tube in the throat to see the esophagus. This test also allows the doctor to obtain a sample of the cells to detect the infection.

Sometimes a small piece of tissue is removed for a biopsy. A biopsy is a test that checks for inflammation or cancerous cells.

  • A barium drink. It is an x-ray of the throat and esophagus. Before the x-ray, you will drink a calcareous fluid called barium. The barium covers the inside of the esophagus to make it look better on an x-ray.


The treatment you need depends on what is causing the esophagitis. If you have esophagitis caused by acid reflux, your doctor will probably advise you to change your diet, lose weight if necessary and, as much as possible, make other changes in your lifestyle.

In this sense here are some ideas that you could apply:

  • Change your eating habits.
  • It is best to eat several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
  • After eating, wait 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Last-minute snacks are not a good idea.
  • Chocolate, mint and alcohol can make esophagitis worse. They relax the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
  • Spicy foods, acid-rich foods (such as tomatoes and oranges) and coffee can make reflux symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms get worse after eating a certain food, you can stop eating that food to see if your symptoms improve.
  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
  • If you have symptoms of gastric reflux at night, lift the head of your bed from 6 inches to 8 inches by placing the frame in blocks or putting a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Add extra pillows does not work).
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Losing only 5 to 10 pounds can help you more than you think.
  • If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to help your esophagitis, your doctor may suggest that you try medications that reduce stomach acid.
  • The reduction of reflux gives the esophagus the opportunity to heal. Non-prescription medications for this purpose include:
  • Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta or Tums.
  • Stronger acid reducers, such as famotidine (e.g., Pepcid), omeprazole (e.g., Prilosec) or ranitidine (e.g., Zantac).
  • However, if esophagitis is caused by an infection, you may need to take antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection.
  • If you or anyone in your circle of relatives are familiar or do not have esophagitis caused by a food allergy, then your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids.
  • In the worst case, it may be possible that the person suffering from esophagitis has to need a surgical intervention, only while suffering from a tear in the esophagus or, if something is blocking the esophagus, for example , A tumor.

Risk Factors for Esophagitis

Risk factors for developing esophagitis include:

  • Weakening of the immune system due to HIV or AIDS, diabetes, leukemia, lymphoma or other autoimmune diseases
  • Hiatal hernia (when the stomach pushes through the opening in the diaphragm between the esophagus and the stomach)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy of the thorax
  • Surgery in the chest area
  • Medications to prevent rejection of an organ transplant
  • Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Obesity
  • Use of alcohol and cigarettes
  • A family history of allergies or esophagitis
  • Your chance of developing an infection of the esophagus is low if you have a healthy immune system.

If you suspect an esophagitis … When to consult a doctor?

Make an appointment with your doctor anytime you notice blood in your urine. It is necessary that you have an open communication without skimping on details to find a quick solution to the condition.

Keep in mind, however, that some medications such as laxatives, but also certain foods, such as beet, rhubarb or berries, cause your urine to turn red.

Therefore, the opinion always of a person authorized as a doctor is vital to make the discards that correspond to the case.