Esophagitis: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Inflammation of the esophagus often occurs when acidic gastric juices find their way into the esophagus. Inflammation can then occur. This causes a burning sensation behind the breastbone, just above the stomach and in the throat. This is called heartburn or heartburn. Esophagitis is also called reflux esophagitis.


  • Heartburn
  • Pain behind the breastbone
  • Farm up
  • Burning feeling behind the breastbone, above the stomach and sometimes in the throat



Esophagitis most commonly occurs when the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach is damaged. The corrosive acid then moves to the esophagus, after which complaints begin to occur. In patients, the pain and burning sensation mainly occur when they are in a lying or bending position. This is because the food in the stomach then moves more easily towards the esophagus. Esophagitis can go away on its own, but that does not always happen. Elements that increase the risk of esophagitis are obesity, smoking, alcohol and the use of certain medications. Painkillers damage the lining of the esophagus and stomach. This does not apply to paracetamol. Too much weight causes food in the stomach to be pushed more quickly towards the esophagus. Inflammation of the esophagus is therefore more common in overweight patients than in healthy people.


The doctor will ask the patient questions to get an idea of the existing complaints. If necessary, the doctor may decide to conduct additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. An endoscope can be used to take a look inside the esophagus. This is called a gastroscopy. The throat is anesthetized with a special spray, after which the tube is pushed into the esophagus. If necessary, pieces of tissue can also be taken with the scope for examination. Because a gastroscopy is a taxing examination, it is not often chosen. A doctor can often arrive at the diagnosis when the patient talks about his complaints.


For the treatment of esophagitis, the doctor prescribes antacid medications. That does not help all patients. If it turns out that the acid-suppressing medication is not working, the doctor usually chooses a drug that stops the production of acid completely. If necessary, painkillers may also be prescribed to relieve the pain. There is also a surgical procedure in which the transition from the esophagus to the stomach is made tighter. Because this is a very taxing operation, this is rarely chosen. Esophagitis usually occurs sporadically. If this occurs more often, medication may need to be continued.

Precautionary actions

A patient can also take action themselves to reduce the risk of esophagitis. This can be done by not using cigarettes and alcohol. If you are overweight, it is important to lose weight. By raising the head of the crib by about ten centimeters, the contents of the stomach are less likely to flush up during sleep.

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