By Dr. Donna Powell & Dr. Renee M. Marchioni Beery at Gastro MD

Image by Natural Herbs Clinic from Pixabay

The esophagus, commonly referred to as the “food pipe,” is the tube that carries the food you swallow from your mouth to your stomach. It is a crucial part of your gastrointestinal tract and plays a vital role in healthy digestion. Esophageal disorders refer to collection conditions or diseases affecting the esophagus’ ability to function normally. If you or a loved one is experiencing esophageal issues, learn about the different types and treatments here:

Different Types of Esophageal Disorders

The following are disorders of the esophagus:
●      Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD is the most common esophageal disorder and is characterized by stomach acid repeatedly flowing back into the esophagus.
●      Achalasia: The condition involves the lower esophageal sphincter not opening or relaxing, preventing food from reaching the stomach.
●      Barrett’s esophagus: The condition involves the esophagus becoming damaged by acid reflux.
●      Esophageal diverticulum: The condition refers to a pouch protruding in a weak spot of the esophageal lining.
●      Esophageal spasms: These are painful abnormal muscle spasms or contractions that occur in the esophagus.
●      Esophageal strictures: This is the narrowing of the esophagus, causing pain when swallowing or inability to swallow.
●      Hiatal hernias: The condition occurs when the upper part of the stomach protrudes, bulging through the diaphragm into the chest cavity.
●      Esophageal cancer: The two types of esophageal cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
●      Eosinophilic esophagitis: The condition is a chronic immune system disease involving white blood cells called eosinophils to become overabundant in the esophagus and cause inflammation of the esophageal lining.
What increases the risk for esophageal disorders?
Existing conditions, such as GERD, commonly cause additional esophageal disorders. Allergies, infections, and other chronic diseases are also causes as well. Experts recommend managing the situation by avoiding certain triggers. Other factors that increase the risk for esophageal disorders include alcohol consumption, certain medications, and smoking. Extra weight due to obesity or pregnancy can also develop esophageal disorders because the added weight puts pressure on the abdomen.
The Symptoms of Esophageal Disorder
The most common symptoms of esophageal disorders are:
●      Pain when swallowing
●      Difficulty swallowing
●      Acid regurgitation
●      Heartburn
●      Chest pain when eating, specifically behind the breastbone
●      Abdominal pain
●      Back pain
●      A sensation that food is stuck in your throat
●      Indigestion
●      Unexplained weight loss
Treatment for Esophageal Disorders
Medical intervention is required when your esophagus is impaired, and the digestive process is disrupted. Different types of esophageal disorders mean other lifestyle changes, medication, and treatment. Treatment for esophageal disorders may be as simple as taking prescribed medication but depending on the severity; it may involve surgery.
For GERD, the most common esophageal disorder, doctors mostly recommend the following:
●      Lifestyle changes
●      Dietary changes
●      Endoscopic therapy
●      Surgery
For achalasia, an esophageal condition with no cure, surgical and non-surgical treatments are available, including:
●      Medication
●      Peroral Endoscopic Myotomy (POEM)
●      Heller Myotomy
●      Pneumatic Dilation
In cases of Barrett’s esophagus, medications such as proton pump inhibitors may help ease symptoms. But if treatments are unsuccessful, the following types of surgery may be necessary.
●      Photodynamic Therapy
●      Radiofrequency Ablation
●      Nissen Fundoplication
●      Cryoablation
The following are common esophageal stricture treatments:
●      Esophageal Dilation
●      Esophageal Stent
In cases of an esophageal diverticulum, surgery will depend on the size and location of the bulge, which can be located in the back of the throat, mid-chest, or above the diaphragm. Surgery treatments for the condition include:
●      Diverticulectomy and Cricopharyngeal Myotomy
●      Diverticulopexy with Cricopharyngeal Myotomy
●      Cricopharyngeal Myotomy
Contact us today for more on esophageal disorders, diagnosis, and treatment. The team of professionals at GastroMD looks forward to working with you. We are one of the leading gastroenterology practices in the Tampa Bay area. We perform various diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment in a friendly, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere where patient care is always a top priority.