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Esophagitis Causes and Types
Esophagitis is caused by an infection or irritation of the esophagus. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can cause infection. Individuals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to these infections and may be at higher risk for esophagitis.
Infections that cause esophagitis include:
Irritation of the inner lining of the esophagus may be the cause of esophagitis. Reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus is a common cause of esophageal irritation. This may occur due to several conditions:
Other causes of esophageal irritation can be a result of medical treatment:
Medications: Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs can irritate the lining of the esophagus. They can also cause increased acid production in the stomach that leads to acid reflux. Large pills taken without enough water, or taken just before bedtime can dissolve or get stuck in the esophagus, causing irritation.
Radiation to the chest (thorax), for cancer treatment can cause burns leading to scarring and inflammation of the esophagus.
Swallowing foreign or toxic substances can irritate, damage or burn the lining of the esophagus.
Drinking alcohol and smoking can also increase the risk of developing esophagitis.
When left untreated, inflammation of the esophagus can cause changes in the cells that make up the inner lining (mucosa) of the esophagus. This condition is called Barrett's esophagus, which increases the risk for esophageal cancer.
Eosinophilic esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus due to an over-proliferation of white blood cells (eosinophils) in the lining of the esophageal wall. This leads to dysmotility of the esophagus and difficulty swallowing. It is believed to be associated with different types of allergic reactions in people who are prone to hay fever, rhinitis, and dermatitis are more prone to eosinophilic esophagitis.
Bhupinder Anand, MD
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