An esophageal stricture is a narrowing of the esophagus – which transports food and liquids from the mouth into the stomach. Benign signifies that esophageal cancer is not causing the narrowing.
When stomach acid and other irritants injure the lining of the esophagus over a period of time, it causes inflammation and scar tissue formation which in turn makes the esophagus narrow.
Symptoms of benign esophageal stricture include:
- Difficulty whilst swallowing or painful swallowing.
- Regurgitation of food and liquid.
- Repeated hiccups / burping.
- Inexplicable weight loss
Causes Of Benign Esophageal Stricture
When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to close properly, the stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This causes inflammation. Frequent exposure to the stomach acid triggers the formation of scar tissue. In due course, the esophagus narrows and a stricture develops.
Other causes for narrowing are:
- Radiation therapy to the neck.
- Inadvertent swallowing of acidic or a corrosive substance.
- Protracted use of a naso-gastric tube.
- Damage due to an endoscope.
Treatment Options For Benign Esophageal Stricture
The treatment regimen for benign esophageal stricture depends upon the intensity of the condition and the underlying cause.
- Esophageal dilation: Is done under general or local anesthesia and an endoscope is introduced into the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Then, a small balloon on the end of the endoscope is inflated to stretch the esophagus.
- Esophageal Stent: A thin plastic tube is inserted in to the esophagus to help keep a blocked esophagus open.
- Doctors also recommend elevating your pillow to make sure that the stomach acid does not flow back up into the esophagus.
- Lose weight in case you are obese or over weight. Confer with a nutritionist and follow a diet plan. Eat small, frequent meals through the day.
- Ensure that you do not eat for 3 hours before bedtime.
- Quit smoking.
- Steer clear of alcohol.
- You should also steer clear of those foods which trigger an acid reflux, such as – spicy foods, carbonated drinks, greasy and fatty foods, coffee, chocolate, and citrus foods.
- Your health care provider with also prescribe a few acid blocking drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs); these are very effective and help manage GERD successfully. These drugs block the proton pump, a special type of protein, which helps decrease the quantity of acid in the stomach.
- Your doctor may prescribe these for short term relief to help the stricture heal quickly. They could also be recommended as a long term treatment plan.
- Doctors prescribe antacids as well; these proffer short term respite by neutralizing the acids in the stomach.
- Antihistamines are useful too; they reduce the secretion of acid.
- Homeopathy drugs help deal with the various symptoms of GERD – heartburn, water-brash, burning in the stomach, cramps as well as irregular bowel movement. Discuss with a homeopath ad start medications to obtain relief. Frequently prescribed drugs include – Bryonia, Robinia, Nux Vomica, Lycopodium and Arsenicum Album.
- Your health care provider may advise surgical intervention in case medications and esophageal dilation prove to be ineffective. A surgical procedure will repair the LES and prevent GERD symptoms.
- In extreme cases, an esophageal replacement may be the only effective option.