Esophagitis (ih-sof-uh-JI-tis) is inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus. More to Know The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. A number of different factors can cause the esophagus to become inflamed, irritated, or swollen. The most common cause of esophagitis is gastroesophageal reflux, a condition in which stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. Other causes include allergic reactions; reactions to certain oral medications (pills or other medicines that are swallowed); and infection by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Esophagitis can narrow the esophagus and cause symptoms such as difficult or painful swallowing, heartburn, chest pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, coughing, sore throat, and decreased appetite. It can also cause food to become lodged in the esophagus. If left untreated, esophagitis can increase the risk of more serious conditions. Treatment depends on what is causing the esophagitis and may include medicines to treat acid reflux, reduce allergic reactions, or fight infections. Lifestyle choices (such as losing weight, not smoking, and avoiding foods that cause allergic reactions or increase reflux) also can help control esophagitis. Keep in Mind Most of the conditions that cause esophagitis respond well to treatment. Esophagitis caused by oral medications usually heals within a few days after the medicine is changed or its use is stopped. All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts. Back to Articles Related Articles A to Z: Duodenitis Learn more about diseases and conditions of the stomach and digestive system. Read More A to Z: Gastritis Learn more about diseases and conditions of the stomach and digestive system. Read More Digestive System The digestive process starts even before the first bite of food. Find out more about the digestive system and how our bodies break down and absorb the food we eat. Read More Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Gastroesophageal reflux disease doesn't just affect old people who eat too much while watching TV. Active, healthy teens can have GERD too. Read More Gastroesophageal Reflux When symptoms of heartburn or acid indigestion happen a lot, it could be gastroesophageal reflux (GER). And it can be a problem for kids - even newborns. Read More Pyloric Stenosis Pyloric stenosis can make a baby vomit forcefully and often. It can lead to serious problems like dehydration, and needs medical treatment right away. Read More Your Digestive System The digestive system breaks down the food you eat. Learn how in this article for kids. Read More A to Z: Eosinophilic Esophagitis Learn about allergic reactions and diseases of the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. Read More Digestive System Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds. Read More Peptic Ulcers Many people think that spicy foods cause ulcers, but the truth is that bacteria are the main culprit. Learn more about peptic ulcers. Read More Helicobacter pylori H. pylori bacteria can cause digestive illnesses, including gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Read More Ulcers Doctors once thought that stress, spicy foods, and alcohol caused most stomach ulcers. But ulcers are actually caused by a particular bacterial infection, by certain medications, or from smoking. Read all about ulcers. Read More A to Z Symptom: Sore Throat A sore throat can be caused by many things, from viral and bacterial infections to seasonal allergies and gastroesophageal reflux. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.