Inflammation of the oesophagus. In corrosive oesophagitis, which is caused by swallowing caustic chemicals such as cleaning fluids, there is immediate severe pain and swelling in the throat and mouth. Antidotes are of limited value, and washing out the stomach (see lavage, gastric) increases the damage. Treatment consists mainly of reducing pain and providing nursing care until the oesophagus heals. Reflux oesophagitis is due to poor function of the muscles in the lower oesophagus, which permits the stomach’s acidic contents to rise back into the oesophagus (see acid reflux). The main symptom, heartburn, may be worsened by alcohol, smoking, and obesity. Poor function of the lower oesophagus may be linked with a hiatus hernia. Treatment focuses on diet and lifestyle changes. Antacid drugs help to reduce acidity. Surgical treatment may be necessary for a hiatus hernia. Barrett’s oesophagus, a complication of reflux oesophagitis, may lead to cancer. Severe, chronic oesophagitis can cause an oesophageal stricture.


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