What Is an Esophageal Ulcer?

What Is an Esophageal Ulcer?

An esophageal ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food and liquid from your mouth to your stomach.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the most common cause of esophageal ulcers.
  • Infection of the esophagus, caused by certain types of fungus, bacteria and viruses.
  • Irritants that damage the esophagus, such as cigarette, alcohol and some medications.
  • Treatments done on the esophagus, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Excessive vomitting
Signs and symptoms
  • Pain when you swallow or trouble swallowing
  • Pain behind your breastbone (heartburn)
  • Upset stomach (nausea) and vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Chest pain
  • Upper endoscopy
    During the test, the doctor will pass an endoscope down your throat and into the esophagus. An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light on the end. Then the doctor will remove tissue samples of your esophagus for biopsy.
  • Barium swallow.
    For this test, you will drink a chalky liquid containing a substance called barium. Then you need to take X-rays of your esophagus, so your doctor could check for ulcers.
  • Blood tests.
    These check for infection in the esophagus.

The treatment focuses on easing symptoms and preventing further damage. It may include:

  • Medicines to reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes
  • Medicines to treat infection
  • Quitting smoking and not drinking alcohol
  • Avoiding irritating medicines (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, potassium, etc)


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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.