March 19, 2019 3 min read

Pill Induced Esophagitis

Aspirin & Antibiotics Can Cause Reflux and Other Health Complications How many pills have you taken over the last month, week, or even today? Taking a single pill of say Advil ® or aspirin can put you at risk for esophagitis, referred to as pill-induced esophagitis. This inflammation of the esophagus can happen if the pill doesn’t go down your throat quickly. Prolonged contact with the mucosal lining of your esophagus can result in inflammation, esophageal strictures, or in extreme cases hemorrhages requiring immediate medical attention.

Risky medications

Medications that put you at an increased risk of pill-induced esophagitis, include antibiotics and NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, which includes aspirin, Advil ®,Motrin®, Aleve ®, and prescription-strength pain relievers. NSAIDs are the most prescribed medications for treating conditions, such as arthritis. While there are more cases of antibiotics-induced esophagitis, the cases with NSAIDs are far more serious, including increased complications of hemorrhages and strictures. Another medication with increased risks is alendronate (Fosamax ®, Merck), which is used to treat or prevent osteoporosis. This pill has caused more strictures than any other oral medication. While those with esophageal motility disorders seem to be predisposed to pill-induced esophagitis, including structural abnormalities in the esophagus or compressions of the esophagus, anyone taking a pill can be at risk.


Those who develop pill-induced esophagitis typically take a pill with a small amount or water and/or take a pill right before going to bed. Within a couple hours, they can develop chest pain that may be continuous and is often exacerbated by swallowing. Other symptoms include painful swallowing (odynophagia) or difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). This pain can last a few days and can get better gradually. In more severe cases, patients may not be able to eat for a period of time. Severe cases are complicated by stenosis, strictures, hemorrhage, or even perforation.


Those who develop strictures or other serious complications as a result of pill-induced esophagitis can develop long-term symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In these cases, proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications are often prescribed to treat acid reflux symptoms. PPI medications do not come without their own risks, which further complicates the treatment path.

PPIs have own risks

Several FDA warnings have been issued and hundreds of studies published showing an association between long term PPI usage with hip, wrist or spine fractures; bacterial infections; chronic kidney disease; heart disease; dementia; community-acquired pneumonia; stomach cancer; chronic liver disease; and even premature death.

New natural treatment

In light of serious PPI side effects, patients nationwide are seeking alternative solutions to treat their symptoms. Many of which nationwide have found great relief at night with the MedCline Reflux Relief System. This sleep positioning medical device creates (and maintains) the ideal position for patients at night to naturally relieve their GERD symptoms, including heartburn, regurgitation, and lesser-known symptoms of ‘silent reflux’, such as chronic cough, and nasal congestion. Clinical studies have shown that MedCline reduces esophageal acid exposure (acid that escapes your stomach into the delicate lining of your esophagus and beyond) by 87% over a bed wedge. Decreasing acid exposure will not only decrease your symptoms but will also provide protection against disease progression and the dangers of GERD. Why is MedCline so effective? Gravity and anatomy. By keeping your esophagus above your stomach, acid cannot escape. And, by keeping you in this position, you won’t slide down exposing yourself the risk of acid exposure. Simple science in action, all while you sleep.

Avoid pill-induced esophagitis

As a precautionary measure, take all pills one at a time with plenty of water. Also be sure you stay upright long enough so that the pill has time to travel down your esophagus.