What Causes Inflamed Esophagus?

What Causes Inflamed Esophagus?


Inflamed esophagus, also called esophagitis, is a condition when the lining of the esophagus becomes swollen, inflamed, or irritated. The esophagus (food pipe), is the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach.

Generally different types of esophagitis have varied causes. In some cases, more than one factor may cause esophagitis.

Reflux esophagitis

When the stomach acid flows back into the food pipe, it damages the tissue and over time causes gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A complication of GERD is chronic imflammtion and tissue damage in the esophagus.

Eosinophilic esophagitis

Eosinophils are white blood cells that play a key role in allergic reactions. Eosinophilic esophagitis happens with a large number of white blood cells in the esophagus. This may be in response to an allergy-causing agent or acid reflux or both.

Drug-induced esophagitis

Several oral medications may cause tissue damage if they remain in contact with the lining of the esophagus for too long. Drugs that have been linked to esophagitis include:

  • Pain-relieving medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others)
  • Antibiotics, such as tetracycline and doxycycline
  • Potassium chloride, a medication for potassium deficiency
  • Bisphosphonates, including alendronate (Fosamax), a treatment for weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis)
  • Quinidine, a treatment for heart problems
Lymphocytic esophagitis

Lymphocytic esophagitis indicates an increased number of lymphocytes in the lining of the esophagus. It is an uncommon esophageal condition.

Infectious esophagitis

If the tissue has a bacterial, viral or fungal infection, it may cause esophagitis. It occurs most often in people with poor immune system, such as people with HIV/AIDS or cancer.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.