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Esophagitis is present when the lining of the esophagus becomes swollen, inflamed, or irritated. The esophagus is the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach. It is also called the food pipe.
Inflammation - esophagus; Erosive esophagitis; Ulcerative esophagitis
Esophagitis is often caused by stomach fluid that flows back into the food pipe. The fluid contains acid, which irritates the tissue. This problem is called gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). An autoimmune disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis also causes this condition.
The following increase your risk of this condition:
People who have a weakened immune system may develop infections. Infections may lead to swelling of the food pipe. Infection may be due to:
The infection or irritation may cause the food pipe to become inflamed. Sores called ulcers may form.
Symptoms may include:
The doctor may perform the following tests:
Treatment depends on the cause. Common treatment options are:
Most of the time, the disorders that cause swelling of the food pipe, respond to treatment.
If not treated, this condition may cause severe discomfort. Scarring (stricture) of the food pipe may develop. This can cause swallowing problems.
A condition called Barrett esophagus (BE) can develop after years of GERD. Rarely, BE may lead to cancer of the food pipe.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of esophagitis.
Falk GW, Katzka DA. Diseases of the esophagus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 138.
Richter JE, Friedenberg FK. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 44.
Zurad EG. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 101.
Review Date: 7/22/2016
Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist at Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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