Management of Esophagitis
Esophagitis refers to the burning pain in chest due to acid reflux in esophagus from stomach. Esophagitis is the response of tissues of esophagus to a number of agents that affects the solidarity of esophageal protective mechanisms.
Risk factors and mechanism of Esophagitis:
Esophagitis is a fairly common issue and more than 60% of people have at least one episode of esophagitis in their life. It is because of the unhealthy lifestyle which must be corrected otherwise it may lead to chronic and long standing agonizing esophagitis.
Following risk factors are associated with esophagitis:
Smokingis believed to be the strongest risk factor that irritates the lining of esophagus and of stomach. Irritation of esophageal lining leads to depressed defense mechanisms of esophagus against the acid from stomach. Moreover, this also affects the integrity of the protective valve at the junction of esophagus and stomach that aims at preventing any acid from stomach to gain access to esophagus during eating, walking and sleeping. Moreover cigarette smoke directly induce stomach cells to produce more acid.
Stress and anxiety also increases stomach acid secretion by releasing stress hormones like adrenaline. Same is true for the adrenaline taken from outside to stimulate brain and to increase energy levels. Due to increased acid secretion, defense mechanisms suffer great harm and lead to characteristic heart-burn.
Coffee and caffeinated beverages are one of the main causes of esophagitis as caffeine which is a major component of coffee and other caffeinated beverages decreases the potency or stability of protective valve leading to promotion of acid influx in esophagus.
Complications of long standing Esophagitis:
If all the risk factors are not controlled, long standing esophagitis may lead to:
- Barrette esophagus:
This term is coined for changes in normal microscopic architecture of esophageal cells. This is one stage earlier than full blown esophageal cancer and thus must be taken seriously. It is diagnosed by biopsy, when regular treatments may not help to relieve the symptoms of heart burn.
- Esophageal cancer:
After dysplastic (disorderly changes) at microscopic level, if treatment is not warranted, it may lead to esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer can be suspected when heart burn becomes severe, non-responsive to treatment, accompanied by weight loss (of significant degree) and difficulty in swallowing of food.
Management of Esophagitis:
It is very easy to manage esophagitis, all what you need is to improve your nutritional status and avoid all the inciting agents that may increase the acid production from stomach cells. This includes cigarette smoke, caffeinated beverages and stress. Moreover you can also use some medications that may help in reducing acid secretion or strengthening gastric protective mechanisms like antacids, gastric coating drugs and etc
Tips to avoid Esophagitis:
- Drink plenty of water (at least 7 to 10 glasses per day)
- Avoid spicy foods especially during late hours
- Maintain a time-table for your breakfast, lunch and dinners. Do not let your stomach empty for long hours and avoid consuming coffee and other caffeinated beverages on empty stomach.
- Quit smoking as early as you can.