Esophageal ulcers

An esophageal ulcer is a hole in the lining of the esophagus corroded by the acidic digestive juices secreted by the stomach cells. An esophageal ulcer is usually located in the lower section of your esophagus. It is often associated with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Esophageal ulcers are not contagious. You cannot catch them from someone else.

*** Esophageal ulcers may be a symptom of another disease or condition. Esophageal ulcers are often common in GERD. Bleeding from esophageal ulcers may cause iron deficiency anemia.


  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty swallowing
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sour taste in the mouth
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting, sometimes including blood
  • weight loss


The direct cause of esophageal ulcers is the destruction of the lining of the esophagus H. pyloridus bacteria. H. pyloridus bacteria is usually found in the stomach. Sometimes ulcers are caused by infection. Less common, the fungal infection known as candida, herpes, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) have all been linked to esophageal ulcers.

Other common causes of esophageal ulcers are:

  • chronic use of anti-inflammatory medications
  • smoking cigarettes
  • chewing tobacco
  • GERD
  • bulimia

How are Esophageal Ulcers Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose esophageal ulcers with a barium x-ray or endoscopy.

Complications of Esophageal Ulcers?

Common complications of esophageal ulcers include: bleeding and perforation of the esophagus.

Can Esophageal Ulcers be Treated?

Yes. Treatment of esophageal ulcers will depend on the underlying cause. Some common treatment are: antibiotics to eradicate H. pyloridus, anti-reflux medication, elimination of risk factors, and prevention of complications.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What do you think is causing my problem?
  • Is there more than one condition or disease that could be causing my problem?
  • What tests will you do to diagnose the problem?
  • How good are the tests for diagnosing the problem and the conditions?
  • What is the likely course of this condition? What is the long-term outlook with and without treatment?
  • If my symptoms worsen, what should I do on my own? When should I contact you?
  • Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
  • Are you aware of each of the medications that I am taking? Can they adversely interact with the medications you are prescribing for me?
  • Should we monitor for side effects of the medications that you are prescribing or for their interactions with other medications I am taking?
  • Can my condition be treated?
  • How will this condition affect me now and in the future?
  • Should I make changes in my lifestyle?
  • What over-the-counter medications should I avoid?