A to Z: Esophagitis

A to Z: Esophagitis

A to Z: Esophagitis

Esophagitis (ih-sof-uh-JI-tis) is inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus.

More to Know

The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. A number of different factors can cause the esophagus to become inflamed, irritated, or swollen. The most common cause of esophagitis is gastroesophageal reflux, a condition in which stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. Other causes include allergic reactions; reactions to certain oral medications (pills or other medicines that are swallowed); and infection by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.

Esophagitis can narrow the esophagus and cause symptoms such as difficult or painful swallowing, heartburn, chest pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, coughing, sore throat, and decreased appetite. It can also cause food to become lodged in the esophagus.

If left untreated, esophagitis can increase the risk of more serious conditions.

Treatment depends on what is causing the esophagitis and may include medicines to treat acid reflux, reduce allergic reactions, or fight infections. Lifestyle choices (such as losing weight, not smoking, and avoiding foods that cause allergic reactions or increase reflux) also can help control esophagitis.

Keep in Mind

Most of the conditions that cause esophagitis respond well to treatment. Esophagitis caused by oral medications usually heals within a few days after the medicine is changed or its use is stopped.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com

Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationPediatric/Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER) PAGER is a nonprofit organization that provides information and support to parents, patients, and doctors about gastroesophageal reflux (GER).
OrganizationNational Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases This group conducts and supports research on many serious diseases affecting public health.
OrganizationNational Institutes of Health (NIH) NIH is an Agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and offers health information and scientific resources.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
OrganizationChildren's Digestive Health and Nutrition Foundation (CDHNF) The CDHNF website provides information on gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Related Articles
Digestive System The digestive process starts even before the first bite of food. Find out more about the digestive system and how our bodies break down and absorb the food we eat.
A to Z Symptoms: Sore Throat A sore throat can be caused by many things, from viral and bacterial infections to seasonal allergies and GERD.
A to Z: Eosinophilic Esophagitis Learn about allergic reactions and diseases of the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.
Digestive System Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds.
Peptic Ulcers Many people think that spicy foods cause ulcers, but the truth is that bacteria are the main culprit. Learn more about peptic ulcers.
Ugh! Ulcers You've probably heard people talk about ulcers, but what are they? Find out in this article for kids.
Ulcers Doctors once thought that stress, spicy foods, and alcohol caused most stomach ulcers. But ulcers are actually caused by a particular bacterial infection, by certain medications, or from smoking. Read all about ulcers.
Helicobacter pylori H. pylori bacteria can cause digestive illnesses, including gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.
A to Z: Duodenitis Learn more about diseases and conditions of the stomach and digestive system.
A to Z: Gastritis Learn more about diseases and conditions of the stomach and digestive system.
Your Digestive System The digestive system breaks down the food you eat. Learn how in this article for kids.
Gastroesophageal Reflux When symptoms of heartburn or acid indigestion are frequent or can't be attributed to spicy ingredients, it could be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). And it can be a problem for kids - even newborns.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Gastroesophageal reflux disease doesn't just affect old people who eat too much while watching TV. Active, healthy teens can have GERD too.
Have You Heard of GERD? Be on guard for GERD! Find out about this digestive problem that causes heartburn and other problems in many people.
Pyloric Stenosis Pyloric stenosis is a condition that can cause your baby to vomit forcefully and often and may cause other problems such as dehydration and salt and fluid imbalances.
Developments Developments
Sign up for enewsletter
Get involved Get involved
Discover ways to support Akron Children's