What is the prognosis of esophagitis?

Updated: May 02, 2019
  • Author: Deepika Devuni, MBBS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The prognosis is good with rapid diagnosis and proper treatment. Ultimately, prognosis depends on the underlying disease process.

Minimal morbidity and mortality result from mild symptoms of esophagitis. Pain from moderate-to-severe symptoms may produce anxiety and lost work and may lead to medical evaluations for more serious causes of pain.

Complicated esophagitis may lead to esophageal strictures (typically long, smooth, tapered areas of narrowing), malnutrition, and, rarely, perforation or bleeding. In addition to strictures, serious gastrointestinal complications of esophagitis include Barrett esophagus and adenocarcinoma. Aspiration of gastric contents is a potentially serious respiratory complication that occurs more often in children. It may be associated with bronchospasm, pneumonitis, and apnea.

Severe esophagitis may lead to dysphagia, pain, odynophagia, and malnutrition. Rarely, life-threatening bleeding occurs and may lead to death. Outcomes and survival in these patients are related to the severity of their underlying systemic illness.

Recurrence is a frequent problem in patients with reflux. Many patients require maintenance therapy to prevent relapse of symptoms.

Candida esophagitis is usually self-limiting, and most patients have a marked response to treatment with antifungal agents. However, necrotic mucosal debris and fungal mycelia in the esophagus occasionally form a mycetoma (ie, fungus ball) that causes obstruction. In other patients, severe Candida esophagitis may lead to the development of strictures. Other complications include ulceration and hemorrhage and, rarely, fistula formation into the bronchial tree. [47]

In immunocompetent patients, herpes esophagitis often resolves spontaneously within 1-2 weeks with conservative treatment involving analgesia and sedation. Rare complications of herpes esophagitis include perforation, tracheoesophageal fistulas, and dissemination to other organs.

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