Understanding Esophageal Strictures
Esophageal strictures occur when the esophagus, the tube-shaped passageway that connects the throat to the stomach, narrows from inflammation or the development scar tissue. There are several factors that may cause esophageal narrowing, including chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ingesting corrosive chemicals, scleroderma, esophageal cancer, or a lodged irritant such as a pill.
Symptoms of esophageal strictures can vary from patient to patient, but usually include:
- A worsening ability to swallow, first with solid foods, then with liquids
- Chest pain after eating
- Unintentional regurgitation of liquids and food, which may result in wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing
- An increased amount of saliva in the mouth
- Weight loss
- Coughing fits, particularly in the evening
Treatment for esophageal strictures can take various forms depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms and what specifically is causing the esophageal narrowing. Many patients are able to benefit from a temporary liquid diet or medicines to address strictures caused by GERD. In more extensive cases, procedures to widen the esophagus or replace it entirely with a section of the large intestine may be recommended. If the patient is not healthy enough to undergo surgery, a feeding tube may be placed through the stricture or into the stomach.
The Tampa General Hospital Endocscopy Center is a premier destination for individuals with gastrointestinal issues, from esophageal strictures and other gastroesophageal conditions to colon cancer. In fact, our commitment to individualized patient care and utilizing the latest breakthroughs in treatment has earned us a spot in U.S. News & World Report’s list of America’s Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology and GI Surgery in 2017-18.
If you are experiencing symptoms that are consistent with esophageal strictures or another gastrointestinal issue, take advantage of TGH’s online Physician Finder to easily locate a gastroenterologist who can provide the specialized care you need. Or, give us a call at 1-800-833-3627.