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Swallowing Difficulty

You may have esophagitis from a very common problem, acid reflux. Acid reflux is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is a backflow of digestive acid from the stomach. It causes a chemical irritation or "burn" of the esophagus.

Sometimes inflammation or ring-shaped scarring can narrow the esophagus, making it difficult for food to pass after it is swallowed.

To prevent more acid injury from occurring, your doctor may recommend an acid-blocking medicine such as famotidine (Pepcid), ranitidine (Zantac), omeprazole (Prilosec), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), or rabeprazole (Aciphex).

Your doctor will likely recommend at test called esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGD (viewing of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with a camera on a flexible, narrow cord). If you have scarring that is narrowing your esophagus, you may need your doctor to stretch the scar during this procedure, a process called dilatation. Your doctor might alternatively choose to view your esophagus using a test named a barium swallow (x-ray views of the esophagus after you swallow a liquid that shows up on x-ray).

Infections in the esophagus can also cause esophagitis, but this is much less common than esophagitis from acid reflux. Only a few types of infection are common in the esophagus, and they usually do not occur if your immune system is normal. If your immune system is weakened, you may develop esophagitis from yeast or from cytomegalovirus (CMV) or herpes virus. Esophagitis from infections can occur in people who have HIV infection, use steroid medicines for a long time, have had organ transplants, or have been treated with chemotherapy for cancer. Infections can be identified by an EGD, like other types of esophagitis.


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