Esophagitis is a health condition wherein there is an inflammation of the esophagus. This comes either acute or chronic. It affects a staggering 15% of pregnant women and 5% of obese persons. Gastroesophageal reflux is the most common cause of esophagitis. The backward flow of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and its duration of exposure against the esophageal lining determine the degree of damage and intensity of manifestations. Ingestion of chemicals that irritates or burns the lining of the esophagus and side effects of some medications are also among the top contributors on the development of esophagitis. Heartburn is the most commonly manifested by affected individuals, this is due to the proximity and anatomical location of the lower esophagus and its sphincter that are irritated.
NORMAL ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY
The esophagus is the third major passageway of ingested food in the body, after the mouth and the pharynx. This is a straight but flexible 25 cm long tube. This connects the pharynx and delivers the masticated materials to the stomach for further digestion. This is approximated to run beneath the sternum and ends over the xyphoid process this organ penetrates the diaphragm, an opening called “esophageal hiatus”. It has a structure on its end known as gastroesophageal sphincter which regulates the exit of food. It opens to deliver food into the stomach and closes to prevent the backward flow of gastric materials.
Normally, the hydrochloric acid stays on the stomach and never or just a minimal amount on the esophagus. In the event the stomach cannot do compete emptying or there is a force pushing the stomach upward, gastric contents, including acids move up against a closed sphincter. Once the sphincter can no longer hold the pressure, some stomach contents sips through, causing extreme pain over the cardiac region as heartburn. This can be relieved through drinking milk and staying on upright position. It may or may not immediately cause esophagitis.