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Gastrointestinal

Candida esophagitis

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Definition

Candida esophagitis is a yeast infection of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

See also:

  • Candida-associated diaper dermatitis
  • Candidiasis - oral
  • Vaginal candidiasis

Alternative Names

Candida infection - esophagus; Yeast infection - esophagus

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Candida esophagitis is caused by the yeast Candida. It occurs when the yeast spreads from the mouth down the esophagus.

The condition is often a sign of a weakened immune system. The following raise your risk for Candida infections:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia or lymphoma
  • Organ transplants
  • Other conditions that suppress or weaken the immune system

If you have a weakened immune system, thrush in the mouth (oral thrush) makes you more likely to get Candida esophagitis.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever (only if the fungus spreads further)
  • Oral thrush (Candida in the mouth)
  • Painful swallowing

Signs and tests

Tests that show Candida include:

  • EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) with or without biopsy, staining, and culture
  • Mouth orthroat swab culture
  • Upper GI and small bowel series

Treatment

In most people, antifungal medicines such as fluconazole (taken by mouth) or amphotericin (given by injection) can control the infection. Some people also need pain medicine. Many patients need other, long-term medicines to suppress the fungus and prevent another episode.

Expectations (prognosis)

Esophagitis can usually be treated effectively. The outcome depends on the immune system problem that makes the person develop the infection.

Complications

  • Holes in your esophagus (perforation)
  • Recurrent infection
  • Spread of Candida to other sites in your body

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of esophagitis, especially if you know that you are immunosuppressed.

Prevention

Preventing HIV/AIDS lowers your risk for infections such as Candida. Good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of infection.

References

Kauffman CA. Candidiasis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 359.

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