Esophageal erosion is a medical term to specify the wear and tear on the esophagus, the tube in the throat that leads from the mouth to the stomach. In most cases, this condition is caused by digestive issues, the most common of which is GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. This disease causes stomach acids to back-up into the esophagus because the sphincter or flap that covers the opening between the esophagus and the stomach does not close properly. The constant flush of stomach acids in the esophagus may cause damage to the tube that results in a gradual erosion of the lining, causing a variety of symptoms.
Inflammation of the esophagus is caused by mild to moderate states of acid reflux from the stomach back up into the esophagus. The lining or mucous membrane of the swallowing tube becomes red and irritated, causing a burning sensation along portions or the entire length of the esophagus. This symptom is most commonly called heartburn or acid indigestion.
In some cases of esophageal erosion, inflammation may lead to swelling of the tissues lining the esophageal tube. This swelling can cause narrowing of the passageway, making it difficult to swallow foods and even saliva. The erosion of the esophagus may occur at any point along the tube.
Ulcers or holes in the lining of the esophagus are also common symptoms of erosion. These ulcers are one of the rarest form of ulcers and usually occur near the bottom of the esophagus. Ulcers may also be caused by a bacteria called H. pyloridus bacteria as well as GERD. However, individuals who suffer from bulimia, as well as individuals who smoke and drink, may also experience these types of ulcers in the esophagus lining.
Pain caused by esophageal erosion is often expressed by individuals as a constant burning or warm sensation marked by sharp episodes of pain when swallowing. Others suffering from varying degrees of erosion in the esophagus may experience pain caused by coughing, and may even note the presence of the blood in sputum or mucous.
Individuals suffering from esophagus erosion may experience bleeding, which, in severe cases, may also be noted in the stools as a dark and tarry looking substance. Vomiting caused by stomach upset may also be tinged with blood or a person may even vomit blood. This is a severe symptom that requires immediate attention.
As the erosion of the esophagus advances, other parts of the digestive system, including the mouth and teeth, may be affected. If left untreated, teeth enamel may suffer from acid regurgitation.