What causes Esophagitis and how to treat it?
The esophagus is a very sensitive organ that connects the throat to the stomach. Many times, it is prone to inflammation which might result in swelling due to its delicate nature. This is called Esophagitis.
What causes Esophagitis?
The following are a number of things that can increase one’s chances of getting esophagitis.
• Ingested chemicals – Never make a mistake of ingesting any type of chemical, especially those which are corrosive. Chemicals can cause serious damages to your esophagus, which might even result in death.
• Treatment by radiation – In the course of exposure to radiation as a form of cancer treatment in areas that are in close proximity to the esophagus, the rays might find their way to this sensitive organ, causing injury.
• Stomach Acid – Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a disease caused by the dysfunction of the muscle found at the end of the esophagus. This causes stomach acids to flow freely into the esophagus, corroding the organ. However, other factors such as obesity, pregnancy, alcohol, smoking, spicy food and beverages with caffeine can lead to acids leaking back into the esophagus.
• Infections – People with immunity deficiency such as those suffering from AIDS are more likely to develop infections from viruses and bacteria.
• Too much vomiting – Vomit has an acid which can severely corrode the esophagus, leading to esophagitis.
• Pills – In the course of swallowing, pills can get stuck in the esophagus, leading to irritation. To avoid this, you should ensure that you swallow the pills with sufficient water. Pills can also get stuck due to the failure of esophagus to contract and pass down its contents into the stomach. This is known as motility disorder.
Signs and symptoms of esophagitis
• Blood in the stool or vomit
• An uncomfortable feeling of irritation in the esophagus
• Pain in the esophagus when swallowing.
• Heartburn caused by acids flowing back into the esophagus from the stomach
• An uncomfortable feeling of something getting stuck in the track.
Ways in which the disease is diagnosed
Before diagnosis, it is required that your doctor checks your physical state as well your past medical records in order to obtain accurate results. Some of the tests to be performed include:
• Barium X-rays – This is a form of X-ray diagnosis that is done with the help of a barium solution. The solution is ingested, leading to an illumination of the esophagus, helping the doctors locate exactly where the problem is.
• Endoscopy – This involves the use of a medical equipment called an endoscope to view the esophagus.
• Performing a biopsy
• Culturing the esophagus
Treatment of the disease
The following are treatment options for esophagitis:
• Administration of antibiotics to kill infection-causing bacteria
• Treating the inflammation directly by administering steroids
• Taking in medications that reduces acidity, such as H2 blockers and protein pump inhibitors or trying natural treatments for EoE.
In the course of treatment, your doctor will give you advice on how you can reduce discomfort from the disease.
What to avoid once diagnosed with the disease
• Too much spies in the food.
• Foods that are hard to swallow and might cause pain to the organ, such as nuts and dry foods.
• Foods that contain too much acid, such as citrus juices and tomato derivatives.
Things to do to reduce the disease’s severity
• Use a straw whenever you are taking beverages.
• Make sure that your head is slightly lifted above your body when sleeping in order to keep off stomach acids from the esophagus. Your head should be raised about 8 to 10 inches from the rest of your body.
• Avoid hard foods and take soft foods like fruits and soup instead.
• Do not take large bites of food, and if you do, wait till they are properly chewed before swallowing.
• Increase the number of times you eat in a day to five smaller ones instead of three heavy ones.
Regardless the cause of esophagitis, medical treatment always works to get rid of it. It might however take long to completely heal if it is as a result of acid reflux.
Complications caused by the disease
• The esophagus might become narrow with time, making it difficult for you to swallow food normally. This requires advanced medical attention.
• One can become dehydrated due to the inability to drink any fluids.
• In cases of severe esophagitis, a hole may develop in the esophagus, leading to chest pains, fever and short breaths. The organ can also get infected by bacteria entering from the stomach. This can be life-threatening.