Esophagus Disorders

Esophagus Disorders includes any medical conditions or health complaints that afflict or originate in the Throat or Esophagus, the sections of the digestive system primarily concerned with delivering food and drink to the Stomach. These organs are essential to digestion, and any loss of function of these organs can cause very serious health consequences.

Barrett’s Esophagus

An uncommon condition where the cells lining the lower Esophagus change color and composition because of repeated exposure to Stomach acid. This exposure to Stomach acid is usually because of long-term Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), a chronic condition where Stomach acid is regurgitated up into the lower Esophagus. People with Barrett’s Esophagus have a higher risk of developing Esophageal Cancer. Dietary and life style changes are the best way to eliminate or reduce the frequency of Stomach acids flowing up into the lower Esophagus. The symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus include difficulty swallowing, black, tarry stools, vomiting blood, weight loss, and loss of appetite.

Difficulty Swallowing or Dysphagia

May temporarily occur when someone eats too much too quickly or when they don’t chew their food well enough. However, if the difficulty swallowing is persistent, then it may indicate a serious medical condition. The symptoms include pain while swallowing (odynophagia), inability to swallow, choking or coughing while eating, feelings of food being caught in your chest, bringing food back up into the mouth (regurgitation), heartburn, recurrent pneumonia, and unexpected weight loss.

Esophageal Spasms

Occur when muscle spasms disrupt the coordinated muscular contractions, called peristalsis, that move food down the Esophagus to the Stomach. The condition is more common in people with Acid Reflux Disease. The main symptoms of Esophageal Spasms are swallowing problems and chest pain when swallowing. Various medications can help relax the esophageal muscles, and altering eating habits can help prevent the condition.

Esophageal Varices

Abnormally enlarged veins in the lower part of the Esophagus. This condition generally occurs when normal blood flow to the Liver is blocked, which can occur as a result of scaring of the Liver (cirrhosis) and other conditions. When the blood flow to the Liver is blocked, blood backs up into smaller, more fragile blood vessels in the Esophagus, and also sometimes into the blood vessels of the Stomach or rectum, causing the vessels to swell.

The symptoms of Esophageal Varices include vomiting blood, black, tarry stools, decreased urination (because of unusually low blood pressure), excessive thirst, lightheadedness, and (in severe cases) shock. Esophageal Varices do not produce symptoms unless they rupture and bleed, which is a life-threatening occurrence that requires immediate medical care. Medications that lower blood pressure can help treat Esophageal Varices. In cases where such medications aren’t effective, the Esophageal Varices may be injected with a clotting solution or tied with special elastic bands to prevent bleeding.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Chronic condition where Stomach acid, and occasionally bile, is regurgitated up into the lower Esophagus. The constant acid reflux can irritate and inflame the lining of the Esophagus, and cause a range of complications, such as narrowing the Esophagus, ulcers in the Esophagus, and a slightly increased risk of developing Esophageal Cancer. The main symptoms of GERD include burning sensations in the chest and throat (heartburn) especially when lying down, a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, sore throat, regurgitation of food or sour liquid.

Heartburn

Condition where the main symptom is a burning sensation in the chest. Occasional Heartburn is normal. However, frequent Heartburn can be a serious problem that may be linked to another serious condition, such as GERD, and it may require medical attention. In most cases, mild Heartburn can be managed with over-the-counter medications and dietary and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, such treatments will probably only provide temporary or partial relief.