Esophagitis is a general term for inflammation that may damage tissues of the esophagus, the long, hollow tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. Esophagitis can cause symptoms such as difficulty swallowing and chest pain and often occurs due to stomach acids, infection, oral medications or allergies. Treatment options for esophagitis depend on the individual’s overall health and the severity of their condition. Medical attention is necessary to prevent further tissue damage and complications such as scarring, stricture and difficulty swallowing.



Signs and symptoms of esophagitis may include:

  • Difficult and painful swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Food impaction
  • Heartburn
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Acid regurgitation


In younger children, symptoms of esophagitis can include:

  • Feeding difficulties
  • Failure to thrive



Esophagitis is often caused by certain conditions which include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD: A condition in which stomach acid irritates the lining of the esophagus (food pipe).
  •  Eosinophilic esophagitis: An autoimmune disorder that involves a high concentration of white blood cells in the esophagus, most likely a reaction to an allergy causing agent or acid reflux or both.
  • Drug induced esophagitis:  Oral medications that can cause tissue damage if they stay in contact with the lining of the esophagus for an extended period of time
  • Infectious esophagitis: A bacterial, viral or fungal infection in tissues of the esophagus (most commonly seen in people with weakened immune systems)


Risk factors

Factors increasing the risk of developing esophagitis vary depending on the different causes of the disorder. These causes include the following:

Reflux esophagitis

  • Eating immediately before going to bed
  • Heavy alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate consumption
  • Fatty foods

Eosinophilic esophagitis 

  • History of allergic reactions
  • Family history of eosinophilic esophagitis

Drug-induced esophagitis 

  • Taking medications with little or no water
  • Taking medications while lying down or before going to bed

Infectious esophagitis

  • Individuals with diabetes
  • Use of steroids and antibiotics
  • Weak immune systems (HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus)



Possible complications that may arise from esophagitis include the following:

  • Severe discomfort
  • Scarring of the esophagus
  • Thinning of the esophagus
  • Difficulty swallowing food or medications
  • Barrett’s esophagus: changes in the cells lining the esophagus