When stomach acid and digestive enzymes repeatedly reflux into the esophagus, the tissues become inflamed and ulcerated. This inflammation is known as esophagitis. When the inflammation is severe, esophageal ulcers develop.

Certain infections, such as a fungus infection (monilia, candida) and viruses, can occur in the esophagus and cause inflammation. Irradiation and caustic substances (like lye) also can cause esophagitis. Acid reflux from the stomach is by far the most common cause of the condition. Esophagitis is a common, chronic medical condition usually caused by gastroesophageal reflux. Less frequent causes include infectious esophagitis in immunocompromised patients, radiation esophagitis, and esophagitis from direct erosive effects of ingested medication. Gastric acid, pepsin, and bile irritate the squamous epithelium, leading to erosion and ulceration of esophageal mucosa.

In the United States, Esophageal reflux symptoms occur monthly in 33-44% of the general population, and up to 7-10% have daily symptoms. Common causes of esophagitis:

  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Scleroderma
  • Smoking
  • Certain foods (such as alcohol, coffee, fatty foods, spicy stuff)
  • Certain medications (like beta-blockers, NSAIDs, theophylline, nitrates, alendronate, calcium channel blockers)
  • Mental retardation requiring institutionalization
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Infectious esophagitis (limited to immunocompromised patients, most commonly those with AIDS)
  • Radiation therapy for chest tumors
  • vomiting very frequently (bulimia nervosa)
Some stuff that helps treat esophagitis:
  • Eat smaller and more frequent meals
  • Avoid eating for 2 hours before going to bed
  • Eliminate excessive bending, lifting, abdominal exercises, and especially tight clothing around your tummy
  • If overweight, lose weight
  • Stop eating or significantly reduce the intake of the previously mentioned food and/or stop smoking
  • Elevate the head of the bed 8" to 10" to let gravity help keep stomach juices out of the esophagus during sleep.

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