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. If not treated, ulcers or scarring may develop in the esophagus, potentially causing permanent damage. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which forces acid from the stomach to flow back up into the esophagus, is the most common cause of esophagitis. Other causes 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 specialty at UAB has a notable history. The inventor of the endoscope, Basil Hirschowitz, MD, founded our program more than 50 years ago. His innovation revolutionized GI and other diagnoses around the world and continues to inspire us today. Our interventional endoscopy group, which includes endoscopic ultrasound, is one of the busiest in the country and has grown to become one of the most prestigious, both clinically and academically.

UAB continues to lead advancements in gastroenterology by participating in many research trials of promising drug therapies and other treatments for digestive disorders. Our physicians and scientists are searching for causes and cures for many GI illnesses through basic research, including studies of the bacteria that inhabit our intestines and affect our health.

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