Esophagitis (cont.)

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How is esophagitis treated?

Treatment for esophagitis depends on its cause.

  • If esophagitis is caused by an infection, it is treated with medications to eliminate the infection.
  • If esophagitis is caused by acid reflux it is treated with medications to reduce or block acid production, for example, heartburn drugs.
  • If esophagitis is due to a medical procedure the patient may need to be on acid-blocking medications for a long time.
  • If the cause of esophagitis is due to taking medications, the patient may need to change those medications. Always consult a doctor before stopping or changing medication.

If esophagitis is diagnosed early enough, medications and dietary or lifestyle changes are often enough to allow the body to heal. If the damage is severe or leads to scar tissue causing difficulty swallowing, more invasive treatments may be necessary.

  • Endoscopy can be used to remove any lodged pill fragments, food or foreign bodies stuck in the esophagus. Stretching (dilatation) of the esophagus can also be done as part of the endoscopy procedure.
  • Surgery may be necessary to remove any damaged portions of the esophagus. In the case of Barrett's esophagus, where the risk of cancer is increased, surgery might be the treatment of choice.
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis is treated with gentle stretching of the esophagus (dilatation) and medications to decrease white blood cells (eosinophils) in the lining of the esophagus.
  • Achalasia may be treated with stretching of the esophagus (dilatation) when oral medications fail to improve symptoms.

Lifestyle changes that may alleviate symptoms of GERD and esophagitis include:

  • Stop smoking
  • Remain upright while eating and for a time (about 2-3 hours) afterwards
  • Take small bites and chew food slowly
  • Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime or laying down
  • Raise the head of teh bed by 4 to 6 inches (put blocks or a foam wedge under the head of the bed; don't use pillows as this can put pressure on the abdomen)
  • Lose weight
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Avoid aspirin or ibuprofen
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/6/2013

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