St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Esophagitis - infectious

    Esophagitis is a general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus -- the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach.

    Infection in the esophagus may be due to:

    • Fungi or yeast (most often Candida)
    • Viruses, such as herpes or cytomegalovirus


    Infection of the esophagus is rare in people whose immune system works well.

    A weakened immune system raises your risk for this type of infection, and makes it harder to treat.

    Common causes include:

    • HIV /AIDS
    • Chemotherapy
    • Diabetes
    • Leukemia or lymphoma
    • Organ transplants (due to drugs that suppress the immune system)
    • Other conditions that suppress or weaken your immune system


    Symptoms include:

    • Difficulty swallowing and painful swallowing
    • Fever and chills
    • Joint pain or other general symptoms (with herpes)
    • Oral thrush (with candida)
    • Sores in the mouth (with herpes or cytomegalovirus)

    Exams and Tests

    • Blood and urine tests for cytomegalovirus (CMV)
    • Cold agglutinins for CMV
    • Culture of cells from the esophagus for herpes or CMV
    • Mouth or throat swab culture for candida


    In most people with esophagitis, medicines can control the infection:

    • Antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir can treat a herpes infection.
    • Antifungal medicines such as fluconazole (taken by mouth) or amphotericin (given by injection) can treat candida infection.
    • Antiviral medicines that are given through a vein (intravenously), such as ganciclovir or foscarnet can treat CMV infection. In some cases, a medicine called valganciclovir, which is taken by mouth, can be used for CMV infection.

    Some people may also need pain medicine.

    Many people who are treated for an episode of infectious esophagitis need other, long-term medicines to suppress the virus or fungus, and to prevent the infection from coming back.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Esophagitis can usually be treated effectively. Healthy people recover on their own in 3 - 5 days, but those with a weakened immune system take longer to get better.

    The outcome depends upon the immune system problem that makes the person more likely to develop the infection.

    Possible Complications

    • Holes in your esophagus (perforations)
    • Infection at other sites
    • Recurrent infection

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have any condition that can cause reduced immune response and you develop symptoms of infectious esophagitis.


    The herpes simplex virus is contagious by direct contact, so avoid contact with known herpes sores (lesions).


    Graman PS. Esophagitis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 94.


    • Herpetic esophagitis


    • Upper gastrointestinal s...


      • Herpetic esophagitis


      • Upper gastrointestinal s...


      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Esophagitis - infectious

            Review Date: 8/24/2011

            Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs

            Brain & Spine
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile