Damage to the esophagus can be treated with drugs called proton pump inhibitors. Some PPIs such as lansoprazole and omeprazole are available over the counter, while others such as esomeprazole and rabeprazole require a prescription, according to WebMD.
Damage to the esophagus is frequently the result of stomach acid rising up into the esophagus because of the relaxation or opening of the muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter, reports Colleen M. Story for Healthline. Stomach acid causes inflammation of the esophagus, called esophagitis, which can be chronic. Severe cases may be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Left untreated, GERD can result in a narrowing of the esophagus, known as an esophageal stricture. This may be caused by scar tissue, and lead to difficulty swallowing or food becoming caught in the throat, according to Story. Esophageal rings, folds of abnormal tissue that form in the lower lining of the esophagus, can lead to similar symptoms. Another condition associated with GERD is Barrett's esophagus, in which damage to the cells lining the esophagus causes them to change, becoming similar to the cells lining the small intestine. This condition increases the risk of esophageal cancer.
Proton pump inhibitors help heal inflammation of the esophagus, and reduce production of acid in the stomach. This decreases the amount of acid in the stomach, causing less irritation if it does back up into the esophagus and allowing the esophagus to heal, claims WebMD.