While it is uncomfortable to have a single condition, it is even more uncomfortable to have a condition which leads to another condition, as many of us have experienced.
One such condition which can often lead to another, is gastrointestinal reflux disease, in which stomach acids are released into the esophagus, causing tremendous discomfort and even pain. The unfortunate reality is that this condition can actually also cause scarring of the esophagus which, in turn, can lead to esophageal strictures.
An esophageal stricture makes swallowing quite difficult, as it involves the narrowing of the esophagus. It can also lead to a feeling of food being stuck in your throat, or just not being able to fully swallow.
This condition is usually caused by scarring of the esophagus through damage of some sort; either by gastrointestinal reflux disease or some other situation.
The constant damage, healing and scarring process which then takes place in the esophagus thickens the lining of the esophagus to the point where it is narrowed and ceases to function as effectively as it should.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors of esophageal strictures include the following:
-Gastroesophageal reflux disease (sometimes known as GERD)
-Prolonged use of a nasogastric tube
-Ingestion of corrosive substances
-Viral or bacterial infections
-Injuries caused by endoscopes
A barium swallow is the first course of treatment for esophageal strictures. A patient will swallow barium and X-rays can be taken to show the narrowing of the esophagus.
The next phase of treatment would be an endoscopy exam. This involves having a tube inserted into the esophagus and which will show any narrowing of the esophagus.
Surgical treatment is rarely necessary. If is performed if a stricture can't be dilated enough to allow solid food to pass through. Surgery is also performed if repeated dilations do not keep these strictures from returning.
Some complications of Esophageal Strictures may include the following:
-Swallowing difficulties may keep the patient from getting enough fluids and nutrients.
-Increased risk of regurgitated food, fluid, or vomit enter