Oesophagitis causes the mucosa of the oesophagus to become inflamed. Regurgitation of stomach acid into the oesophagus, which is known as gastrooesophageal reflux, is usually responsible for oesophagitis. Infections with fungi or viruses, lodged foreign bodies or severe burns are less common causes.
Indigestion and heartburn are characteristic symptoms of oesophagitis. If the inflammation is severe, the affected person may also have difficulty swallowing. Foreign bodies, e.g. tablets or unchewed pieces of food which become lodged in the oesophagus, cause acute pain when swallowing. Chronic reflux of gastric acid can cause hoarseness and teeth issues. Gastrooesophageal reflux (GERD) is outlined in detail in the Reflux disease section.
An oesophagoscopy is usually carried out to diagnose oesophagitis. An oesophagoscopy is also the treatment method if foreign bodies or food scraps have become lodged in the oesophagus.
Oesophagitis as a result of infection with bacteria or fungi occurs primarily in people with a weakened immune system. Antibiotics or anti-fungal medication (antimycotics) are used to treat the disease.