Esophagitis is an inflammatory process of the mucosa lining the esophagus. The most common symptoms may include pain and difficulty swallowing. Its most common cause is gastroesophageal reflux, that is, a situation in which a variable amount of gastric juice flows back into the esophagus.
Reflux esophagitis often causes a burning sensation. This is because gastric juice is very acidic and the lining of the esophagus, unlike the stomach, is not prepared to tolerate this acidity. In the long term, esophagitis caused by gastroesophageal reflux can cause esophageal cell dysplasia.
Another common cause of esophagitis is radiation therapy, when this treatment is given to certain areas of the chest. In such cases, it is said to be actinic esophagitis.
Actinic esophagitis can be alleviated through proper nutrition and supportive medication. In addition, preventive treatment for fungal infections can be instituted. In some cases, temporary interruption of treatment may be necessary. Esophagitis usually goes away a few weeks after radiation therapy ends.