Esophagitis is a general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus -- the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach.
Infection in the esophagus may be due to:
Infection of the esophagus is rare in people whose immune system works well.
A weakened immune system raises your risk for this type of infection, and makes it harder to treat.
Common causes include:
In most people with esophagitis, medicines can control the infection:
Some people may also need pain medicine.
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. Healthy people recover on their own in 3 - 5 days, but those with a weakened immune system take longer to get better.
The outcome depends upon the immune system problem that makes the person more likely to develop the infection.
Call your health care provider if you have any condition that can cause reduced immune response and you develop symptoms of infectious esophagitis.
The herpes simplex virus can be contagious by direct contact, so avoid contact with known herpes sores (lesions).
Graman PS. Esophagitis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 94.
Updated 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. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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