What are the treatment options for esophageal ulcers?

Before treating an esophageal ulcer, it is important for the doctor to know what caused it. In most cases, esophageal ulcers are treated with drugs, while on rare occasions surgery is needed. Sometimes these ulcers, like peptic ulcers, are caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Generally, there are two types of drugs that are used to treat esophageal ulcers in that case-drugs that fight bacteria and those that control acid. These drugs include:

  • Antibiotics, which fight the H. pylori bacteria that may be responsible for the ulcer.
  • Antacids, which neutralize the stomach's acidity, allowing for faster ulcer healing and reducing the painful symptoms of esophageal ulcers.
  • Proton pump inhibitors, which shut down the stomach acid ""pumps.""
  • Acid blockers, which decrease the amount of acid in the affected area.

Stomach surgery may also be used to prevent acid from backing up from the stomach into the esophagus.

An esophageal ulcer may also be a rare side effect from drugs like used to treat cancer or HIV infection. In this case the doctor will have to decide whether to try a different drug so the ulcer can heal. Surgery may be required if the ulcer does not heal on its own, but this is not typical.

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