Symptoms and Signs of Esophagitis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/13/2022

Doctor's Notes on Esophagitis

Esophagitis is inflammation of the lining of the esophagus, the muscular tube leading from the back of the throat into the stomach. It is caused by infection by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, or irritation of the inner lining (mucosa) of the esophagus. If esophagitis is not promptly diagnosed or treated, it can lead to problems with swallowing, ulcers, scarring of the esophagus, or a condition called "Barrett's esophagus," which can lead to esophageal cancer.

Symptoms of esophagitis may include

What are the treatments for esophagitis?

Treatments are based on the various causes or types of esophagitis (diagnosed by your doctor):

  • Reflux esophagitis
    • Over-the-counter (OTC) – antacids, H-2 blockers, proton pump inhibitors; examples are Maalox, Tagamet, Prevacid
    • Prescription – stronger OTC medications, prokinetics like Reglan
    • Surgery – surgical methods to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
    • Proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec
    • Steroids like Flovent
    • Diet changes to reduce or stop food allergens
  • Drug-induced esophagitis
    • If possible, take another drug that does not cause esophagitis
    • Try a liquid form of your medicine
    • Drink a full glass of water when you take a pill
    • Sit or stand about 30 minutes after taking a pill
  • Infectious esophagitis
    • Appropriate antimicrobials to treat infecting bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic disease of the esophagus

If the esophagus becomes narrow and foods have difficulty going through, a procedure termed esophageal dilation may be done to expand the lumen of the esophagus to allow foods to pass through it. Your doctor can suggest what treatments are best for your esophagitis.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.