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Esophagitis

Esophagus, a muscular tube-like structure, is a part of your digestive tract. It connects your throat to the stomach. An inflammation of your esophagus results in esophagitis. According to a review study, it is estimated that esophagitis affects only 5 percent of individuals aged 55 years and older. It is also found in the children. An early diagnosis and treatment would promote the prognosis for esophagitis.

Symptoms

If you have esophagitis, you will experience symptoms like difficulty in swallowing due to pain, burning sensation in the chest, acid reflux, nausea and vomiting, decreased appetite, severe cough, hoarse voice and food impaction.

When to seek the medical advice?

If the symptoms are severe and interfere with the ability to eat, or if you experience a headache, muscle aches or fever, then consulting your doctor as soon as possible would reduce the risk of complications.

Risk factors

The factors that increase the risk of esophagitis include the following:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Family history allergies or esophagitis
  • Use of aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs

Complications

If your condition is left untreated, it may lead to the following conditions:

  • Barett’s esophagus (a serious condition of GERD)
  • Stricture of esophagus (narrowing of esophagus)
  • Ulcers in the esophagus

Your doctor might recommend the treatment based on the type of esophagitis. These include:

Reflux esophagitis: Your doctor prescribes antacids, H2-blockers such as ranitidine, and proton pump inhibitors. Baclofen may be recommended to reduce the gastroesophageal reflux by acting on your lower esophageal sphincter. In some cases, your doctor may suggest fundoplication. It is a surgical procedure that involves wrapping of a portion of your stomach around the esophageal sphincter (a valve that separates your esophagus from the stomach). Eosinophilic esophagitis: The medications used to treat eosinophiic esophagitis include proton pump inhibitors such as esomeprazole, omeprazole and lansoprazole; and topical steroids. Drug-induced esophagitis:TThe treatment of drug-induced esophagitis includes withdrawing the drug that is causing the problem. Your doctor might suggest an alternative drug that may not cause drug-induced esophagitis. Infectious esophagitis:An infectious esophagitis is treated with specific antimicrobial agents.

Your doctor will initiate the diagnosis by taking a complete medical history and performing a physical examination. Your doctor might order certain diagnostic tests that include:

Barium X-ray :During the test, you’re asked to consume the solution that contains barium. X-rays of your esophagus were taken while you’re swallowing the solution. These x-rays will identify the narrowing of your esophagus and any other structural abnormalities. Endoscopy :An endoscopy provides a detailed view of your esophagus. Sometimes, your doctor might remove small tissue from the esophagus to examine under the microscope. Laboratory tests :Your doctor might order blood tests to determine the concentration of white blood cells.

There are four types of esophagitis and include the following:

Eosinophilic esophagitis :The presence of excess white blood cells in your esophagus may cause eosinophilic esophagitis. The condition is triggered by the consumption of milk, soy, eggs, rye, wheat, and beans. Inhaling of allergens such as pollen grains may also worsen your condition. Reflux esophagitis :The reflux esophagitis usually results from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD may occur due to backward flow of your stomach acids into the esophagus causing chronic inflammation of your esophagus. Drug-induced esophagitis :Drug-induced esophagitis may occur when you take the medication with insufficient water. This causes the drug to remain your esophagus for longer periods. The drugs such as painkillers, antibiotics, and bisphosphonates may lead to this condition. Infectious esophagitis :The infectious esophagitis may occur due to bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. The risk increases if you have weakened immune system.