Esophagitis occurs when the lining of the esophagus becomes inflamed. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat and stomach. This inflammation is usually the result of prolonged acid reflux; however, it may also be caused by bacteria or viruses that attack the lining of the esophagus. It may also be caused by an overuse of anti-inflammatories and aspirin. The following symptoms may occur.
Swallowing saliva throughout the day and swallowing food may be very uncomfortable.
When attempting to swallow, individuals with esophagitis may feel like the food being swallowed is stuck in their throats or chests.
Acid reflux or heartburn is generally a symptom that accompanies esophagitis.
Oral lesions, also called herpes, may occur as a result of prolonged esophagitis.
Without treatment, esophagitis may lead to malnutrition or dehydration if swallowing becomes nearly impossible. Scarring of the esophagus may also occur, and could result in a stricture which would prevent food or anything else passing through the esophagus. In rare cases, Barrett's Esophagus may develop and lead to esophageal cancer.
Medications can be used to prevent excess acid production. Also, an analgesic may be prescribed to help with esophageal pain. Antibiotics will be needed if an infection is present. Avoiding spicy foods and acidic foods may also help to alleviate symptoms.