Sore Swallowing? It May Be Esophagitis

When we have a sore throat or pain while swallowing, our first assumption is that it must be a cold or even allergies; however, that may not be the case. Everyday activities, like late night eating or even taking certain medications could put you at risk for developing this painful condition.

Esophagitis is caused by an irritation that leads to inflammation of the esophagus lining. But with symptoms that mimic many other conditions, esophagitis can be hard to recognize. If you notice any of the symptoms below and they do not go away after a few days, or they don’t improve with over-the-counter medications, it’s time to see your doctor.
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Painful Swallowing
  • Chest Pain (particularly behind the breast bone)
  • Swallowed food becoming lodged in the esophagus
  • Heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Acid Regurgitation
Interestingly enough, there isn’t just one kind of esophagitis, there are multiple types. Food allergies, medications, heartburn and infections, common everyday things like these, can all lead to esophagitis. However, by taking a closer look at some of the common types, as well as tips to avoid it, you will be able to steer clear of esophagitis and its many triggers.

Reflux Esophagitis

There is a valve at the bottom of the esophagus that prevents stomach acids from coming up; this is called the lower esophageal sphincter. However, when the valve opens and/or doesn’t close properly, this causes heartburn. When this occurs long-term, this can cause inflammation to the lining of the esophagus.


Avoid eating large, fatty meals, especially right before bedtime

Avoid foods that are known to cause reflux, such as: caffeinated drinks, alcohol, spicy foods and acidic foods (e.g., citrus fruits, tomato-based foods)

Try using over-the-counter medications, such as: antacids, acid reducing medications and H-2 receptor blockers

This type of esophagitis is caused by allergic reactions. Typically, allergic reactions will cause a spike in white blood cells and when it’s a food allergy, this can irritate the esophagus. With this type of esophagitis, the allergen is typically a food; some of the most common are milk, eggs, wheat, soy and tree nuts.


Try an elimination diet to see what foods may be triggering heart burn or esophagitis 

Once you’ve determined what your allergen is, avoid it and work with your physician to develop a personalized diet

Some medications may help to reduce symptoms

Drug-induced Esophagitis

Unfortunately, the side effect of many common medications is their potential to irritate the lining of the esophagus. This is especially true when the medication is taken with little to no water and the pill and/or its residue remain in the esophagus for a prolonged period of time. Medications known to cause this include: over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., Advil, Motrin and Aleve…etc.), certain antibiotics, potassium chloride and Quinidine.


Always take your medication with ample fluid, ideally water, and remain upright for at least 30 minutes

Avoid taking medication right before bedtime

If it feels like your pill is stuck, continue drinking water and eat small amounts of soft foods, like bread

Learning about the common symptoms of esophagitis, as well as the common causes, is the best defense against it. Unfortunately, if left untreated, esophagitis can cause scarring and narrowing of the esophagus. Gwinnett Medical Center can help! We offer access to experienced physicians and gastroenterologists that will ensure you receive the care you need to treat and deter future esophagitis episodes. With several medications, diagnostic procedures and treatment options available, you and your physician can determine the best treatment option for you.


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