Esophageal Ulcer

Esophageal Ulcer


Esophageal ulcers are peptic ulcers in the membrane of the lower portion of the esophagus. They occur when the mucous membrane of the esophagus thins down, making the lining vulnerable to infection or damage. These ulcers can be caused by acid reflux from the stomach. They are also caused by infections, from a range of bacteria, yeasts and viruses.

Signs and symptoms

Esophageal ulcers usually feel like a burning pain below the sternum, in the centre of the chest. The patient may also experience heartburn, nausea, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, acute abdominal pain, vomiting and unexplained weight-loss.

Causes and risk factors

Esophageal ulcers are usually caused due to damage from stomach acids. They dissolve the mucous membrane and attack the esophageal lining. This becomes a point of potential infection. Certain medications can also have this effect. Alcohol abuse can also alter stomach chemistry and cause Esophageal ulcers.


The main complication associated with ulcers is recurrence. It could also cause gastrointestinal bleeding and perforation.


The diagnosis for an esophageal ulcer is based on the medical history, physical exam and an endoscopy to look inside the esophagus. A barium X-ray may also be required. After the ulcer is diagnosed, the doctor may take a sample of the ulcer tissue for further analysis.

Treatment and Surgical Interventions

The treatment of the ulcer depends on the identified cause. If the ulcer is bacterial, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If the cause is another medication for your pre-existing conditions, the doctor may change that course of treatment. You may also be prescribed over-the-counter H2 receptor blockers to reduce stomach acid production. The doctor may also prescribe a proton pump inhibitor to allow the esophageal wall to heal.


Esophageal ulcers can be prevented by drinking adequate water, eating small, frequent meals, taking precautions to prevent acid reflux and bacterial gut infections.


Endoscopy Guidelines

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