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Infection

Just like reflux can cause esophagitis, there are infections that can cause inflammation of the esophagus which can lead to painful and difficult swallowing. Infectious causes of difficulty swallowing are not common. 

Candida, or yeast, is a fungal infection of the esophagus. When it occurs in the mouth, it is known as thrush. It is more common in infants, adults who wear dentures, and those whom have taken antibiotics, or are immunosuppressed, whether it be from severe chronic illness (ie: HIV), cancer, or steroids. Other much more uncommon infections that can lead to painful and difficult swallowing are herpes simplex virus (HSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV).