Esophagitis is an inflammation that damages tissues in the esophagus. Esophagitis leads to painful swallowing and chest pain. In simple words, esophagitis describes any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus. Left untreated, Esophagitis can lead to ulcers and in a rare situation even turn into a risk for esophageal cancer. Candida yeast infection or Herpes can lead to esophageal infection.
Irritation leading to esophagitis may be caused by GERD, hernia, swallowing a toxic substance or oral medication. An auto immune disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis also causes this condition. Other common causes that can lead to the condition include excessive alcohol usage, cigarette smoking and chest radiation treatment.
Symptoms of esophagitis
Typical symptoms of Esophagitis include difficulty in swallowing and painful swallowing. Some patients experience hoarseness and sore throat. They suffer decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. In young children symptoms of esophagitis include feeding difficulties.
- X-ray (barium swallow)
- Biopsy of tissue removed from the esophagus
Treatment for esophagitis depends on the cause, possible treatments include:
- Medications that block acid production e.g. heartburn drugs
- Corticosteroid medication that reduce inflammation
- Antibiotics, antifungal, or antiviral to treat the infection
- Pain medications that can be gargled or swallowed
- Surgery to remove the damaged part of the esophagus
To ease the discomfort, some common lifestyle changes can be effected:
- Avoid spicy food that is loaded with chili, curry powder, pepper etc.
- Chew food slowly and thoroughly.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Include soft foods such as custards, pudding, cereals, mashed potatoes etc.
Reflux esophagitis is also known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. It is a condition in which the contents from the stomach; like food or liquid leak back into the esophagus. This leads to irritation of the esophagus thus causing heartburn and other related symptoms.
Understanding reflux esophagitis
- Food eaten passes from the throat to the stomach through the esophagus
- When the food reaches the stomach, a ring of muscle fibers prevents the food from moving backward into the esophagus.
- Food, liquid or stomach acid can leak back into the esophagus if the muscle (sphincter muscle) does not close well
- This is called reflux or gastroesophageal reflux that damages the esophagus.
Reflux esophagitis causes
- Consuming spicy food
- Pregnancy can also induce gastroesophageal reflux
- Medications like bronchodilators for asthma, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, etc can also cause the condition
Reflux esophagitis symptoms
- Heartburn or a burning pain in the chest (under the breastbone)
- Feeling of food being trapped behind the breastbone
- Heartburn increases on stooping, bending, lying down etc.
- It is worse at nights
- Nausea on eating
- Bad breath
Reflux esophagitis diagnosis
No tests are required if symptoms are not severe. If symptoms are severe or if they occur even after treatment, one or more of the below mentioned tests may be ordered by the physician:
- Barium swallow x-ray
- Esophageal pH monitoring
- Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
- Esophageal manometry
Reflux esophagitis treatment
- Prescription drugs that prevent acidity
- Anti-reflux surgery for patients who suffer from severe symptoms
Reflux esophagitis lifestyle changes
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Tomato sauces
- Spicy or fatty foods
- Full-fat dairy products
- Avoid food that leads to heart burn
- Eat food at least 2-3 hours before going to bed
- Change eating habits and lifestyle
- Do not use tight fitting belts and garments around the waist
- Do not bend or exercise just after eating
- Eat small and frequent meals
- Sleep with your head raised at least 6 inches above the body level
- Reduce weight
Eosinophilic esophagitis is an inflammatory condition wherein the wall of the esophagus gets filled with large numbers of eosinophils (a type of white blood cell). This condition is usually misunderstood for GERD as the symptoms for both the conditions are similar. Eosinophilic esophagitis is classified as a blood disorder and is considered to be food allergy. More common in men, it occurs in women too.
Eosinophils, in general, are not found in the esophagus. The eosinophils attack the lining and damage it. After a period of time, the inflammation could cause the esophagus to close up.
Eosinophilic esophagitis symptoms
Eosinophils collecting in the esophagus cause problems all the way down the gastrointestinal pathway. This in turn makes the normal function of eating and digestion difficult and painful. Common symptoms reported include nausea, chest pain and difficulty in swallowing, cramping and abdominal pain. This usually results in diarrhea and weight loss.
Eosinophilic esophagitis diagnosis
- Endoscopy and biopsy of esophagus
- RAST testing (radioallergosorbent test), a blood allergy test for specific IgE antibodies
- Allergic skin prick testing
Eosinophilic esophagitis treatment
Steroids are prescribed for esinophilic Esophagitis. Eliminate specific foods that cause allergic reactions.