Esophagitis is a general term for swelling, irritation, or inflammation of the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food from the back of the mouth to the stomach. Those with esophagitis may experience heartburn, difficulty swallowing, or even chest pain. Untreated esophagitis can cause ulcers, scaring, and permanent damage to the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD is the most common cause of esophagitis. That is because GERD regularly forces damaging stomach acid into the esophagus. Other causes of esophagitis include hiatal hernias, vomiting, allergies, viruses, and an infection in the lining of the esophagus. Medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, as well as certain antibiotics and vitamin and mineral supplements, also can cause esophagitis.

UAB Medicine is known worldwide as a leading center for digestive and liver disorders. Our gastroenterology and gastrointestinal (GI) program is consistently ranked among the top programs of its kind in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We see more than 20,000 patients and perform more than 12,000 outpatient procedures each year.

Our GI program is also historically significant. The inventor of the endoscope, Basil Hirschowitz, M.D., founded our program more than 50 years ago. His innovation revolutionized GI and other diagnoses around the world. Our interventional endoscopy group, which includes endoscopic ultrasound, is one of the busiest and most prestigious in the country — clinically and academically.

UAB continues to lead advancements in gastroenterology by participating in research trials of promising drug therapies and other treatments for digestive disorders. Our doctors and scientists are searching for causes and cures for many GI illnesses through basic research. For example, they study how the bacteria in our intestines affect our health.

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