What are Esophageal Diseases?
Esophageal diseases are a collection of conditions that affect the proper function of the esophagus. The esophagus is the pipe that allows food to travel from the mouth to the stomach. When the function of this food pipe is disrupted, it can lead to a number of different symptoms.
There are many different forms of esophageal diseases, some of which include:
Achalasia is a disorder that makes passing food and liquid into the stomach difficult due to nerve damage in the esophagus. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation or weight loss.
This is a condition in which the lining of the esophagus is damaged due to repeated exposure to stomach acid. Symptoms may include frequent heartburn and chest pain.
Esophageal cancer is cancer of the esophagus. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, weight loss, chest pain, coughing and more.
Dysphagia describes difficulty swallowing foods or liquids. Individuals with this condition may cough or choke while eating or drinking, regurgitate their food, have persistent drooling or have a feeling like food is stuck in their throat or chest.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
This is a digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the lining of the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. Symptoms consist of heartburn, nausea, regurgitation or difficulty swallowing.
This is an abnormality in which the esophagus experiences strong spasms. It is a type of motility disorder. Symptoms involve severe chest pain, trouble swallowing, heartburn, cough or feeling like something is stuck in your throat.
How are Esophageal Disease Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose an esophageal disease, your GI doctor will evaluate your symptoms and also perform a physical exam in which they will feel your neck as you swallow. There are also some tests that may need to be performed, including upper endoscopy, gastrointestinal X-rays, esophageal manometry or an esophageal pH test. These tests will help your doctor to get a better idea of what may be causing your symptoms, as well as allow him or her to properly diagnose your condition.
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Treatment Options for Esophageal Diseases
The treatment for your esophageal disease will be dependent on the type and severity of your condition, as well as your age and health history. However, your treatment plan may involve the following:
Botox® can be injected into the esophageal sphincter to provide relief from spasms and reduce symptoms.
During this procedure, a balloon is inserted by endoscopy into the esophageal sphincter and inflated to enlarge the opening. However, this procedure may need to be repeated if the esophageal sphincter does not stay open.
Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM)
This is an inpatient procedure that involves the insertion of an endoscope through the mouth and into the throat. A small incision is created in the esophageal lining to cut the outer wall of the muscle near the sphincter, making it easier to swallow.
This procedure is primarily used to treat gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) or hiatal hernias. During this laparoscopic procedure, small tools will be used to tie the upper portion of the stomach around the end of the esophagus. This knot prevents acid from backing up into the esophagus.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Esophageal Diseases or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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