Reflux Esophagitis : Stomach Disease – Causes

Esophagitis is a condition because of an inflammation of the lining of the lower end of the oesophagus. Esophagus or gullet is a hollow muscular tube about 2 cms in diameter that acts as the ‘swallowing pipe’ leading to the stomach. Muscles of the esophagus contract in a coordinated fashion in one direction to push the food down through a valve like muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter.

Reflux esophagitis is usually caused when the digestive juices containing acids from the stomach, repeatedly move upwards into the lower esophagus (reflux).

In certain people the stomach acid contents regularly refluxes backwards into the esophagus, causing inflammation and damage of the lining of the tube.This is known as acid reflux.

Causes

Acid reflux occurs because

Muscle contraction normally keeps the lower end of the esophagus closed. Normally the esophageal muscles (where it enters the stomach) work in a mechanical action, wherein they squeeze themselves together to act as a shut-off valve, or tap, to keep stomach contents out. Hence reflux occurs when this valve like muscle is weak.

The reason why the muscle becomes weak is not fully understood.
Once the muscles become weak many factors like :

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • Pregnancy
  • Coffee, chocolate, fatty or spicy foods
  • Certain medications

Can also increase the frequency of acid reflux.

Certain foods cause reflux, especially those that are:

  • Acidic
  • Rich
  • Spicy
  • Fatty

Sometimes reflux is caused by a ‘Hiatus Hernia’ (protrusion of a small part of the stomach above the diaphragm into the chest), which prevents the muscle at the base of the esophagus from working properly.

The acid is especially harmful and if persistent can cause permanent damage and lead to narrowing of the tube.

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