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Esophagitis - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

The treatment you need depends on what is causing the esophagitis. If you have esophagitis caused by acid reflux or GERD, your doctor will likely recommend that you change your diet, lose weight if needed, and make other lifestyle changes. Here are some things to try:

  • Change your eating habits.
    • It's best to eat several small meals instead of two or three large meals.
    • After you eat, wait 2 to 3 hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good idea.
    • Chocolate, mint, and alcohol can make GERD worse. They relax the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
    • Spicy foods, foods that have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make GERD symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get better.
  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
  • If you have GERD symptoms at night, raise the head of your bed 6 in. (15 cm) to 8 in. (20 cm) by putting the frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows does not work.)
  • Do not wear tight clothing around your middle.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can help.

If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to help your esophagitis, your doctor may suggest you try medicines that reduce stomach acid. Reducing the reflux gives the esophagus a chance to heal. Over-the-counter medicines include:

  • Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, or Tums.
  • Stronger acid reducers, such as famotidine (for example, Pepcid), omeprazole (for example, Prilosec), or ranitidine (for example, Zantac).

If esophagitis is caused by an infection, you may need to take antibiotics or other medicines to treat the infection.

If you or your child has esophagitis caused by a food allergy, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids.

You might need surgery if you have a tear in your esophagus or if something is blocking your esophagus, such as a tumor.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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