Any inflammation or irritation of your esophagus is considered esophagitis. If left untreated, it can cause ulcers and other conditions that can become a medical emergency. Because of this, it is important to understand everything that you can about this condition.
What are the symptoms of Esophagitis?
The most common symptoms of this disease include:
- Trouble swallowing and eating.
- Sore throat.
- Hoarse voice.
- Heartburn and acid reflux.
- Nausea and vomiting.
What causes it?
There are a few things that can cause esophagitis. They include:
- Acid reflux. This condition happens when the contents of your stomach, including acid, comes back up into the esophagus.
- Certain medications. It can be a side effect of some medications including certain antibiotics and pain relievers.
- Both bacterial and viral infections can cause this disease.
What are the risk factors that you need to know?
Some common risk factors include:
- A weakened immune system, due to illness or age.
- Immunosuppressive medications, used for autoimmune diseases and organ transplants.
- Chronic medication use, especially aspirin, anti-inflammatories, and medications taken by cancer patients.
- Chronic vomiting.
- Alcohol use and smoking.
- Family history.
What are the complications of Esophagitis?
If esophagitis is left untreated, you may be looking at complications that may become a medical emergency. These include:
- Damage to your esophagus. The actual lining of your esophagus can become damaged. The tissue can become brittle and damaged.
- Your esophagus can become narrow and obstructed so that you can’t eat or drink normally.
- Your esophagus may become ulcerated, causing severe damage.
How is Esophagitis diagnosed?
If you are concerned that you may have esophagitis, you need to see a general surgeon right away. He or she will discuss your symptoms and decide whether or not you need to have any diagnostics done.
The best way to diagnose esophagitis is by endoscopy. They may take biopsies of your esophagus and look at the samples under the microscope to better diagnose the problem. They may also order an x-ray using barium to get a better look at what happens when you eat and drink.
How is it treated?
If you are suffering from esophagitis, you may be prescribed different medications. These may include:
- Antiviral or antifungal medications, if it is caused by a viral or fungal infection.
- Medications to relieve the pain
- Some cases need steroids to help you get relief quickly.
- Proton pump inhibitors. These medications are useful in blocking the production of acid in the stomach.
What should you expect from your doctor?
Your doctor will do a thorough examination and talk to you about your symptoms. He or she may recommend testing to come up with a diagnosis.