Heartburn, frequent bitter taste in mouth, painful swallowing, and the presence of blood in vomit or stools are some of the common symptoms of erosive esophagitis. This article provides more information regarding the same.
Sometimes, the gastric juice of the stomach comes up into the esophagus and causes an inflammation of esophagus. The condition of inflamed esophagus is called esophagitis. The medical term to describe this reflux or reverse movement of the acid from the stomach, up into the esophagus, is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux disease. Esophagitis causes great discomfort to the sufferer. Over time, it gives rise to complications like the narrowing of the esophagus, formation of ulcers on the esophageal lining, and bleeding. Nocturnal reflux is more likely to cause such discomforts than daytime reflux. Many cases have been reported where all these complexities were found to be linked with esophageal cancer.
GERD needs to be treated well on time as there is a potential risk of severe damage of the esophageal lining due to frequent exposure to gastric acid from the stomach. Long term result of acid reflux is the erosion of the esophageal lining. In medicine, the condition of eroded or damaged esophageal lining is known as erosive esophagitis. It can also be caused by a microbial infection of the esophagus. Often, the symptoms of this disease are not clear and resemble those of a wide number of abdominal disorders.
Following is a list of some common symptoms of erosive esophagitis:
- The most commonly observed symptom is heartburn. It is the burning sensation that rises from the lower chest or stomach towards the neck or throat.
- Occasional heartburn is natural and is commonly experienced by humans. However, if its frequency is more than four times a week, it indicates an eroded esophageal lining.
- Many a time, bitter or sour taste is experienced at the back of the throat.
- Many patients constantly complain of a strange feeling of something stuck in their throat.
- Difficulty when swallowing is another common symptom. This occurs because of the stricture of the esophagus.
- Many patients complain of pain when swallowing food as the esophagus is damaged and sore.
- Dehydration may occur due to insufficient intake of water and fluids.
- Sometimes, bleeding occurs in the esophagus. Blood is often seen either in vomit or in stools. In such a case, one should immediately seek medical attention.
- In severe cases, a hole gets formed in the esophagus due to severe damage. This causes sudden sharp chest pain along with shortness of breath and fever.
The symptoms are often found to be concomitant with some other digestive system disorder. Therefore, its diagnosis is quite tough at times. The doctor generally performs a thorough physical examination. He also looks at the medical history of the patient. The information thus obtained is generally sufficient to conclude the disorder as erosive esophagitis. However, in order to confirm, the doctor prefers to conduct a few diagnostic tests.
These include endoscopy, barium X-rays, and biopsy of the inflamed tissue. A small number of the esophageal cells is also cultured to better understand the disease condition. Endoscopy proves to be of great help to the doctor as it gives a direct view of the esophagus. This provides the doctor with a complete data of the extent of damage of the esophageal lining. Such a piece of information further assists him in deciding the effective treatment strategy for the disease.
Erosive esophagitis often results due to some other disorder occurring in the body. Therefore, its treatment depends on the cause to a large extent. The basic treatment scheme is to cure the causative disorder first, and then give a prescription of medicines to prevent and cure the complications of erosive esophagitis. A patient needs to strictly follow the instructions given by the doctor. This is the only way to relieve the discomfort quickly and effectively.
Apart from medical treatment, the patient should take a few precautionary measures that can assist and speed up the process of recovery. They are as follows:
- Do not consume spicy foods
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco
- Do not eat any hard foods that can cause pain while swallowing. These include nuts and raw vegetables.
- Do not consume acidic foods as they will increase the acid content of the stomach. Such foods include tomato, and citrus and juicy fruits.
The symptoms of a damaged esophageal lining are a result of ignorance or incomplete treatment of GERD or infection. It is an indication of worsening of some disorder that the body was suffering from, for quite sometime. Hence, no further risk should be taken and the condition should be treated as early as possible.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.