Esophageal Stricture

The esophagus is the long tube that is responsible for moving food from the throat to the stomach. An esophageal stricture occurs when the esophagus becomes abnormally narrowed. Narrowing of the esophagus makes it difficult to swallow. This increases the risk of choking. It can also lead to complete obstruction of the esophagus. This can prevent food and fluids from reaching the stomach.

The narrowing of the esophagus is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If not properly managed, inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis) can occur, and further problems can arise. Esophageal narrowing can also be caused by cancer.

Causes of Esophageal Stricture

As previously mentioned, the most common cause of damage is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, other conditions, traits or habits may raise your risk of developing this condition. These include:

  • Radiation therapy to the chest or neck
  • Accidental swallowing of an acidic or corrosive substance
  • Extended use of a nasogastric tube
  • Esophageal damage caused by an endoscopy
  • Treatment of esophageal varices

Symptoms of Esophageal Stricture

Some of the most common symptoms for this condition include the following:

  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Regurgitation (bringing food or liquids back up into the mouth)
  • Sensation of something stuck in the chest after you eat
  • Frequent burping or hiccups

Diagnosis of Esophageal Stricture

Your doctor will most likely perform a physical exam, ask about your symptoms, and ask about your risk factors, among others items. After that, you may have:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Esophageal Stricture

Treatments for esophageal stricture are intended to lessen symptoms, manage complications and treat underlying causes of the disorder. Some of the treatment options include:

Lifestyle changes

  • Avoid smoking
  • If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor about weight-loss options.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, chocolate and mint-flavored foods.
  • Avoid certain medications such as pain relievers and antibiotics
  • Avoid lying down after eating.
  • Make and keep appointments to see your doctor for routine check-ups and follow-up tests.

Medications

  • Antacids will help relieve heartburn or indigestion caused by excess stomach acid
  • H2 receptors will help reduce the amount of acid production
  • Proton pump inhibitors will help block acid production and heal the esophagus
  • Prokinetics will help your stomach empty more quickly.

Medical and surgical procedures

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