Esophagitis is caused by an infection or irritation in the esophagus. An infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or diseases that weaken the immune system. Infections that cause esophagitis include:
- Candida. This is a yeast infection of the esophagus caused by the same fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections. The infection develops in the esophagus when the body's immune system is weak (such as in people with diabetes or HIV). It is usually very treatable with antifungal drugs.
- Herpes. Like Candida, this viral infection can develop in the esophagus when the body's immune system is weak. It is treatable with antiviral drugs.
Irritation leading to esophagitis may be caused by any of the following:
- GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Medications such as aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Taking a large pill with too little water or just before bedtime
- Swallowing a toxic substance
- Radiation injury (after receiving radiation for cancer treatment)
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