A stricture is narrowing of a hollow tube through which essential substance passes. Esophageal stricture is a condition where the esophagus becomes narrow. Many of us do not know what esophagus is, it is the hollow food pipe between the mouth and stomach. Food and liquid from mouth passes through esophagus into the stomach. It also prevents regurgitation of stomach content into the mouth. The gas formed in stomach makes its way through esophagus and mouth thus preventing stomach distension.
Formation of scar tissue is responsible for narrowing of esophageal passage. Any form of damage or inflammation in the muscular walls of esophagus leads to scar formation.The most prominent symptom of esophageal stricture is dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing the food and heartburn.
Most esophageal strictures are benign, but sometimes it can also be cancerous. Fortunately, in majority of cases esophageal stricture can be treated with home remedies to prevent further complications.
What Are The Causes Of Esophageal Stricture?
Esophageal stricture occurs due to formation of scar tissue in the muscular wall of esophagus. Scar tissue is a result of persistent inflammation or damage to the lining of esophagus.
- Most esophageal strictures are benign and among them reflux of acid is the commonest cause. It can develop at any age, but usually develops above the age of 30. When the acid and gastric juice regurgitates in lower part of esophagus due to weak sphincter, it damages the inner lining of esophagus. Recurrent damage to the lining results in scar formation which narrows the opening of esophagus.
- Esophageal stricture can be from birth. It can be a congenital defect.
- Certain medicines taken for long time can damage the esophagus and its lining resulting in scar formation. Aspirin, NSAID’s, anti malarial medicines sometime can cause esophageal strictures.
- Injuries caused during certain diagnostic procedures such as endoscopy.
- Ingestion of corrosive substance can also lead to narrowing of esophagus.
- It can be one of the complications while treating esophageal varices.
- Use of nasogastric tube for long duration can cause damage to the walls of esophagus resulting in scarring and narrowing.
- Malignant esophageal stricture can develop due to cancer of esophagus or even cancer of stomach which extends into the esophagus.
Symptoms Of Esophageal Stricture
Since the food passes from esophagus into the stomach, narrowing of esophagus will lead to difficulty in swallowing the food. It is the hallmark of esophageal narrowing.
- In its early stage the patient may feel difficulty in swallowing hard food such as meat, but as the condition worsens the patient finds difficulty even while swallowing liquids.
- The food gets impacted in the esophagus which ultimately is vomited out in extreme cases. There is associated pain in middle of chest.
- Heartburn and regurgitation of food are other common symptoms associated when esophagus becomes narrow.
- Frequent vomiting soon after the patient swallows food is an indication of narrowing of esophagus.
- A person having esophageal stricture has significant weight loss.
Treatment Options And Home Remedies For Esophageal Stricture
The standard medical treatment to relieve esophageal stricture consists of dilatation of esophagus with specific balloon which stretches and widens the esophagus at the point of its narrowing. The procedure is performed by a doctor who is specialized in this field. It is done with the help of endoscope.
Proton pump inhibitor medications help to neutralize excess acid formation and acid reflux which may prevent return of this condition once the esophagus is dilated.
Surgery is rarely needed as majority of cases find relief with the treatment.
Home remedies are also effective if the problem is not so severe.
- Once detected, patient should avoid foods and drinks which aggravate acid reflux. He should avoid alcohol, soda, caffeinated colas, excessive tea and coffee.
- He should also avoid painkillers and other medications which are responsible for esophageal stricture. If necessary he has to consult his physician before taking it.
- Practicing yoga and meditation helps to reduce stress and strain, which is one of the causes for acidity in stomach.
- Eat small quantity of food at frequent intervals.
- Eat three hours before you sleep. This will allow the food to go further down in the intestine from the stomach. Thus there is less pressure on esophagus.
- While sleeping keep your head raised by six inches above your stomach. This will prevent gastric material entering into the stomach.