The esophagus is the tube that allows food to pass from the mouth to the stomach. Esophagitis refers to any inflammation, irritation or swelling of the esophagus. Common causes of esophagitis include long-term acid reflux, infection and an autoimmune disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis, which is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the tissue of the esophagus. People who drink alcohol, smoke, have undergone surgery or radiation to the chest, use certain medications and have issues with vomiting are at risk of developing esophagitis. People with esophagitis experience cough, difficulty swallowing, painful swallowing, acid reflux and sore throat.
To diagnose esophagitis healthcare providers may perform barium swallow, which uses liquid called barium to outline the esophagus on X-ray, endoscopy and esophageal manometry. Esophageal manometry is performed by passing a thin, pressure-sensitive tube through the nose, down the esophagus and into the stomach. The tube is then pulled back slowly and the patient is asked to swallow. The tube records the pressure created by the muscle contractions created by swallowing.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of esophagitis and may include medications such as those that reduce acid reflux.