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Corrosive Esophagitis in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.


Corrosive esophagitis

is damage to your child's esophagus from harmful substances. The damage may cause inflammation, ulcers, or scarring.

Digestive Tract

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Chest pain that is sudden or happens after your child takes a pill
  • Pain when your child swallows liquids or food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting blood

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child feels like food or medicine is stuck and does not go down with water.
  • Your child's vomit has blood in it or looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your child has black or bloody bowel movements.
  • Your child's symptoms are getting worse.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better or go away after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child vomits and cannot keep food or liquids down.
  • Your child's stomach feels very full, and he or she cannot burp or vomit.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child's healthcare provider may have you stop certain medicine or treatments for a period of time. This will give your child's esophagus time to heal. Do not stop any treatments without talking to the provider first. Your child may also need the following, depending on his or her age and the esophagitis cause:

  • Medicines may be given to decrease inflammation or irritation from stomach acids. They may help increase the protective lining of the esophagus to help it heal. Your child may also need antibiotics to treat or prevent a bacterial infection in his or her esophagus.
  • Dilatation is a procedure used to widen the esophagus. A small balloon, dilator, or stent is placed in your child's esophagus and expanded.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove an area of your child's esophagus. It may be replaced with a portion of his or her stomach or colon.

Help your child prevent corrosive esophagitis:

  • Have your child sit or stand when he or she takes medicine. Do not let your child lie down after he or she takes pills. He or she should stay in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Ask for other ways to give your child's medicine. If your child has a narrow esophagus, ask if you can give his or her medicine in liquid form. Ask if you can crush the pill and mix it with liquid to drink. If your child must swallow pills, make sure he or she swallows them 1 at a time. He or she should take each pill with at least 4 ounces of liquid.
  • Store harmful chemicals in a safe location. Label bottles with harmful substances, and keep them out of the reach of children. Put a lock or childproof latch on the door of the storage area.
  • Keep batteries and similar objects out of the reach of children. Babies often put items in their mouths to explore them. Button batteries are easy to swallow and can cause serious damage. Keep the battery covers of electronic devices such as remote controls taped closed. Store all batteries and toxic materials where children cannot get to them. Use childproof locks to keep children away from dangerous materials.
Common Childproofing Latches

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Your child may need to have another endoscopy to make sure his or her esophagus is healing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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