The esophagus is a muscular tube connecting the mouth to the stomach, allowing for food to pass through easily. Esophagitis is a general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the inner lining (mucosa) of the tube. It results in tissue damage to the esophagus. If undiagnosed or untreated, esophagitis can cause problems with swallowing, ulcers, scarring of the esophagus, or “Barrett’s esophagus,” which can be a precursor to esophageal cancer. Symptoms include painful swallowing, sore throat, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, decrease in appetite, chest and abdominal pain, for example.
Treatment often includes medication, but limiting certain foods may alleviate symptoms.
Foods to AVOID
Certain foods are known to relax the esophageal sphincter. Usually relaxation is good – this is an exception. Relaxation of the valve that allows food to pass through the esophagus to the stomach may result in a backup of stomach acids into the esophagus and cause esophagitis. Spicy and fried foods, chocolate, caffeine and carbonated drinks, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits, alcohol, tobacco, garlic, and mint should be avoided to alleviate symptoms of esophagitis.
Even if your condition is not caused by food allergies, you can ease your symptoms by avoiding spicy foods, acidic foods and drinks, and raw or hard foods. Take smaller bites and chew your food well. Avoid tobacco and alcohol since both increase inflammation and suppress the immune system.
Also, avoid eating or drinking AT LEAST 30 minutes before going to bed. To help even more, elevate your head when sleeping.
Foods to EAT!
Symptoms of esophagitis can be painful, making eating difficult. Choose soft foods like applesauce, oatmeal, grits, mashed potatoes, puddings, ice cream, custard, soft cooked eggs and high-protein shakes or smoothies to ensure adequate caloric intake.
Esophagitis usually responds to lifestyle changes and medical treatment. In most cases, an upper endoscopy (EGD) will be recommended. An EGD is a procedure used to visually examine your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube – used to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine.
Simple heartburn isn’t so simple … don’t avoid the symptoms! Consult with Board Certified General Surgeon, Dr. Jerry Guanciale, to see if you have a reason to be concerned! With over 20 years of experience offering Gastroenterology services, Dr. Guanciale is here in Fort Mohave, AZ to care for you! Consult today – 928.768.1616!