What Is an Esophageal Ulcer?

Q:
What Is an Esophageal Ulcer?

A:
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.

Causes
  • 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
Diagnosis
  • 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.
Treatment

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.