Symptoms of an esophageal ulcer include heartburn, pain when swallowing, trouble swallowing, nausea, vomiting and chest pain, according to the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Esophageal ulcers typically develop as the result of esophagitis, which is an inflammation or irritation of the esophagus, according to MedlinePlus.
Esophageal ulcers frequently develop in individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease, a condition in which acidic fluids from the stomach back up into the esophagus, according to the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Viral, fungal and bacterial infections can also lead to esophogeal ulcers. Other potential causes include excessive vomiting, exposure to alcohol and cigarette smoke, exposure to specific medications, and exposure to cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.
A doctor can diagnose an esophageal ulcer by visibly checking the esophagus with a long, flexible tube called an endoscope, by taking a barium X-ray of the esophagus or by taking a biopsy of esophageal tissue. Blood tests to check for infections are sometimes necessary to determine the precise cause of the ulcer. Esophageal ulcers are treatable, and the esophagus generally takes several weeks to recover after treatment. The specific treatment used depends on the underlying reason for ulcer development. Some common treatments include medication to reduce stomach acids, antibiotics to combat an esophageal infection and dietary changes, according to MedlinePlus.