What is esophagitis? Esophagitis is inflammation of the esophagus, which can result in symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and heartburn. Esophagitis is most commonly caused by acid reflux, which is the upward movement of gastric fluids from the stomach to the esophagus. Your risk of developing acid reflux is increased by obesity, alcohol or tobacco use, a hiatal hernia (protrusion of the stomach into the chest), or frequent vomiting. Different types of infections, including herpes virus and Candida infections, may also lead to esophagitis. If you have a weakened immune system, for example as the result of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), leukemia, or chemotherapy, your risk of esophagitis is also increased. Taking certain types of pills, such as vitamin C, doxycycline, tetracycline, or alendronate (Fosamax), without drinking enough water may also increase your risk of esophagitis. The signs and symptoms of esophagitis can occur every day or only after eating certain foods. Some people with esophagitis have mild symptoms such as hoarseness, while others may have severe burning and difficulty swallowing. Esophagitis can be treated with antacids and, in cases in which the esophagitis is due to a viral or Candida infection, antiviral or antifungal medications. Healthy lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking, and always taking medications with enough water, can help reduce your risk of esophagitis. Esophagitis alone is rarely a serious condition; however, some of the symptoms of esophagitis may be a sign of a more life-threatening condition such as a heart attack. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have serious symptoms such as severe breathing problems, bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails, and chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations. Also seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, are vomiting blood or black material. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for esophagitis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.