Reflux esophagitis is one of the complications that can come from having chronic heartburn and acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Additionally, esophagitis is inflammation that damages the lining of the esophagus and often causes painful or difficult swallowing and chest pain. Additionally, the type of esophagitis caused by heartburn and acid reflux/GERD is known as reflux esophagitis.
Causes of Reflux Esophagitis
Consequently, a cause includes acid reflux/GERD. Which occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) (the muscle located at the bottom on the esophagus) weakens or relaxes abnormally allowing acid to flow back into the esophagus. Consequently, frequent acid reflux can cause chronic inflammation and damage to the esophagus.
Symptoms of Reflux Esophagitis
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Painful swallowing (odynophagia)
- Chest pain
- Swallowed food becoming stuck in the esophagus
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased appetite
Factors that can increase the risk for reflux can also increase the risk of developing reflux esophagitis.
- Hiatal hernia
- Eating foods that trigger acid reflux such as fatty foods, tomato-based foods, citrus fruits, caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, garlic, onion, chocolate and peppermint
If left untreated, it may change the structure and function of the esophagus and lead to more serious complications such as Barrett’s esophagus, strictures and esophageal cancer.
Diagnosing and Treating Reflux Esophagitis
A board certified gastroenterologist can diagnose by performing an upper endoscopy.
Additionally, treatment may include taking over-the-counter medications such as:
- H2-receptor antagonists or PPIs, also known as proton pump inhibitors.
Consequently, if these medications do not offer relief for your symptoms, your doctor may suggest surgery.
There are also lifestyle changes you can make to alleviate the symptoms.
- Avoid trigger foods that might increase your acid reflux
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Avoid lying down after eating