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Contributors: Michael W. Winter MD, Christine Osborne MD, Paritosh Prasad MD
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Esophagitis is an acute or chronic inflammatory process affecting the esophageal wall that can cause chest pain, dyspepsia, odynophagia, or dysphagia and lead to complications such as strictures, food impactions, gastrointestinal bleeding, and even esophageal perforation. There are many causes of esophagitis, including:
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease – The most common cause, with symptoms resulting from a combination of refluxed gastric acid and pepsin leading to inflammation and ultimately necrosis of the esophageal wall, causing ulcers and erosions.
  • Infectious esophagitis – Common in patients with immunodeficiency or those on immunosuppressive medications. Common infections include Candida spp., herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2, varicella zoster virus, and cytomegalovirus, especially in organ-transplant recipients.
  • Radiation esophagitis – Develops after treatment for thoracic cancers, especially breast cancer, with the risk proportional to the radiation dosage. Symptoms may last weeks to months after the completion of therapy. Stricture is a common consequence.
  • Corrosive esophagitis – Follows ingestion of alkali or acidic materials. Stricture is a common consequence of this time of injury and may require dilation.
Related topics: Eosinophilic esophagitis, Drug-induced esophagitis


K20.90 – Esophagitis, unspecified without bleeding

16761005 – Esophagitis

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Last Reviewed:12/14/2017
Last Updated:12/14/2017
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Patient Information for Esophagitis
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A medical illustration showing key findings of Esophagitis : Chest pain, Nausea, Vomiting, Upper abdominal pain, Dysphagia, Dyspepsia, Regurgitation
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