Definition of Herpes esophagitis
Herpes esophagitis is a viral infection that involves inflammation and ulcers in the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The herpes simplex virus causes herpes esophagitis.
In most people, antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir can control the infection. Some people also need pain medicine. Many people who are treated for an episode of herpes esophagitis need other, long-term medicines to suppress the virus and prevent reinfection.
Esophagitis can usually be treated effectively. Healthy people recover on their own in 3 – 5 days, but those with a weakened immune system take longer to get better.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/28/2009