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Erosive Esophagitis

Introduction to Erosive Esophagitis

Erosive esophagitis refers to the condition characterised by the inflammation and ulceration of the food tube or the esophagus.

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It is a common medical condition usually caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The most common complaint in patients with esophagitis is heartburn.

Patients may particularly experience a burning sensation in the upper abdomen immediately after swallowing hot fluids, alcohol, concentrated fruit juice or hot fatty foods. Symptoms are often remarkable when the person is in supine position, bending over or has eaten a large meal.

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In severe cases, the lining of the esophagus may become ulcerated and eventually cause scarring of the esophagus. This scarring may lead to formation of esophageal stricture, further leading to pain and difficulty in swallowing.

Symptoms of Erosive Esophagitis

Erosive esophagitis may be characterised by pain as the food passes across the injured area.

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Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing, and
  • Burning sensation in the chest.

If the ulcers are bleeding, then the affected individuals may note dark coloured stools (due to blood in the stools) or may at times vomit blood.

Anemia may occur in long term cases.

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Causes of Erosive Esophagitis

Erosive esophagitis is commonly noted in individuals who suffer from a disorder known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The GERD is associated with backflow of the acids produced in the stomach during the digestion process. Repeated exposure to these acids causes irritation and inflammation of the tissues of the esophagus.

Erosive esopagitis may also occur due to other causes such as:

  • Ingestion of corrosive chemicals
  • Drugs such as pain killers that may temporarily get stuck in the esophagus, and
  • Obesity.

Other causes include

  • Infection (in immunocompromised patients)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Systemic disease
  • Trauma
  • Effects of ingested medication or corrosive agents

Diagnosis of Erosive Esophagitis

Diagnosis of erosive esophagitis is based on the signs and symptoms observed and use of a diagnostic test known as esophagoscopy.

Treatment of Erosive Esophagitis

The treatment generally involves the correction of the underlying cause.

Reflux disease may require medications that belong to the group of proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers are commonly advised to reduce the acid production in individuals suffering from GERD.

Infections will require antibiotics.

The medications used in the treatment of esophagitis are the same as those recommended for GERD without esophagitis.

Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may also be advised if the pain is intolerable.

Although medications are often needed only for a short period, it may have to be re-prescribed.

Stricture formation may require endoscopy for dilation.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: february 20, 2016