Esophagitis is a general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus. This is the tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.
Infectious esophagitis is rare. It often occurs in people whose immune systems are weakened. People who have strong immune systems don't usually develop the infection.
Common causes of a weakened immune system include:
Organisms (germs) that cause esophagitis include fungi, yeast, and viruses. Common organisms include:
Symptoms of esophagitis include:
The health care provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your mouth and throat. Tests may include:
You may need to have an upper endoscopy exam. This is a test to examine the lining of the esophagus.
In most people with esophagitis, medicines can control the infection. These include:
Some people may also need pain medicine.
Ask your provider for special diet recommendations. For example, there may be foods you need to avoid eating as your esophagitis heals.
Many people who are treated for an episode of infectious esophagitis need other, long-term medicines to suppress the virus or fungus, and to prevent the infection from coming back.
Esophagitis can usually be treated effectively and usually heals in 3 to 5 days. People with a weakened immune system may take longer to get better.
Health problems that may result from infectious esophagitis include:
Call your provider if you have any condition that can cause reduced immune response and you develop symptoms of infectious esophagitis.
If you have a weakened immune system, try to avoid contact with people who have an infection with any of the organisms mentioned above.
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.