The irritation or inflammation of the esophagus, which is the long tube that takes foods and liquids from your mouth to your stomach, is known as esophagitis. It can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from the contents of the stomach backing up to the person’s very own immune system.
Since esophagitis can be due to different causes, treatments for it differ. It is very important for esophagitis to be put under control with the help of a doctor. Otherwise, it may lead to complications that are regarded as serious. For instance, untreated esophagitis may cause the permanent tightening or scarring of the esophagus.
Because some of the symptoms of esophagitis, such as chest pain and nausea, are similar to those of a heart attack, it can be easily mistaken for the latter. To know more about esophagitis, continue reading. Below you will find some important matters about it, such as its various causes and treatments.
There are a handful of esophagitis causes, the most common of which is acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux or GERD happens when the stomach contents such as food particles and acids flow back into the esophagus, which is something not normal. This causes the esophagus to become irritated and inflamed.
Other than acid reflux or GERD, there are a few other things that may cause esophagitis. Some of them are:
- Allergies. The consumption of foods you are allergic to can leave you with esophagitis which, in this case, is referred to as eosinophilic esophagitis. It’s for the fact that white blood cells called eosinophils are activated upon the consumption of allergens like wheat, eggs and peanuts, causing the esophagus to become inflamed. There are cases, too, wherein the inhalation of allergens like pollen can cause eosinophilic esophagitis.
- Infections. Any infection of the esophagus that is due to bacteria, virus and fungi can lead to esophagitis. Doctors refer to this as infectious esophagitis. This is something regarded as rare, and someone whose immune system is compromised due to the likes of cancer, HIV and AIDS is at risk of it. Candidiasis, which is caused by a fungus called candida that can be found naturally in the mouth, is a common cause of infectious esophagitis.
- Certain drugs. The intake of drugs that can irritate the lining of the esophagus may cause esophagitis, which is referred to as drug-induced esophagitis. This usually happens when you fail to drink enough water after swallowing the drug, causing it to come into contact with the lining of the esophagus for a long time. Some culprits behind drug-induced esophagitis are antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
One of the most noticeable symptoms of esophagitis is heartburn — the sensation that your chest is on fire. It may also be accompanied by difficulty in swallowing. You may also experience pain when you swallow. Sore throat, hoarseness, cough, nausea and loss of appetite are some other symptoms of esophagitis.
As mentioned earlier, esophagitis can sometimes be mistaken for a heart attack because they share a few symptoms like chest pain. It’s important to get immediate medical attention if your chest pain is accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness and profuse sweating as it may actually be a heart attack.
Again, having esophagitis treated is vital for the avoidance of certain complications. Some serious problems that may stem from untreated esophagitis include Barrett’s esophagus, which entails extensive damage to the esophagus. Narrowing of the esophagus as well as the formation of ulcers and even holes may happen, too.
In order to put an end to esophagitis, the root cause has to be treated. For instance, the intake of proton pump inhibitors and antacids are recommended for acid reflux or GERD. If the problem is due to an infection, antibiotics, antivirals or antifungal drugs are commonly administered.