The esophagus is a muscular tube which connects the mouth and the stomach and the food in to the stomach via esophagus. Several conditions can afflict the structure and the working of the esophagus, leading to pain and irritation. Common reasons for a scratched esophagus are:
- Acid reflux: Recurrent regurgitation of food from the stomach in to the esophagus irritates the esophagus.
- Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus due to undue alcohol and tobacco intake, vomiting, viral, fungal and bacterial infections, as well as certain medications trigger swelling.
- Irregularities in the sphincters of the esophagus: A malfunction in the 2 esophageal sphincters will afflict the passage of food through the esophagus, and can result in pain, scratching, swelling, vomiting, and infections if the food bolus stays in the esophagus for long.
- Ulcers in the esophagus: Makes the esophagus scratchy and painful. Ulcers or sores in the esophagus arise due to damage of the esophageal mucosa by acidic contents, bacteria and certain medicines. Such ulceration causes scratchiness, pain, particularly when the food passes through the esophagus. If untreated, these ulcers can bleed and cause a lot of tissue impairment.
- Esophageal varices: Enlargement of the veins at the lower end of the esophagus is known as esophageal varices.
- Cancer of the esophagus: Chronic gastro-esopagheal reflux disease, excessive intake of spices, tobacco and alcohol may produce cancerous growths. This manifests as scratchiness, discomfort, pain, swallowing difficulty, weight loss, and general malaise.
- Chemical or physical trauma to the wall of the esophagus is another significant cause.
- Tissue damage because of excessive exposure to radiation.
- Hypersensitivity of the esophagus.
- Undue alcohol consumption, chronic and long term smoking, eating too much spicy food, nicotine and caffeine are important causative factors too.
- Autoimmune disorders such as systemic scleroderma may be an etiological factor as well.
What Does A Scratched Esophagus Feel Like?
Symptoms of the scratched esophagus include:
- There will be discomfort and irritation whilst swallowing food.
- Difficulty and pain whilst swallowing.
- Reflux of acid and food.
- Occasional spiting of blood.
- Occasional chest pain
Home Remedies To Heal A Scratched Esophagus
You could try these tips and remedies to manage the symptoms; however, after about 5 to 7 days if you do not see any amelioration, it is vital that you consult your doctor.
- Experts advise taking medications such as anti-histamines and proton pump inhibitors to reduce the release of acid in the stomach.
- Consumption of very hot foods and beverages must be avoided; it increases the pain and discomfort.
- Quit smoking completely.
- Cut down on spicy foods altogether.
- Make sure you manage the reflux effectively – have small frequent meals daily, never lie down after a meal, exercise at least 3 times a week.
- Certain foods trigger acid release – keep a diary of the offending foods and steadily avoid them.
- Stress, alcohol and tobacco have been identified as the contributing factors for all esophageal problems. Steer clear of smoking and alcohol. Stress management is as important.
Esophageal dilation is necessary when there is an abnormal constriction of esophagus. Surgical excision of damaged and/or cancerous parts of the esophagus may be required.