Symptoms, Causes & Remedies for Esophagus Obstruction
The esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food to the stomach. The narrowing of esophagus causes difficulty in swallowing, and this condition is known as esophageal obstruction. It is commonly known as “Steakhouse syndrome” as the most common foods that cause difficulty in swallowing include steak, poultry, and pork.
About the Esophagus
The esophagus links mouth to the stomach and helps to transport foods that we eat to the stomach, for the purpose of digestion. The esophagus is located behind the heart and trachea. Contraction and expansion of esophagus allows the passage of food. Esophageal blockage occurs as a result of failing of a food bolus or a foreign body passing through the esophagus. Usually, this obstruction occurs when the esophagus begins to narrow due to an abnormality, disease or injury. In severe conditions, complete blockage of the esophagus occurs and swallowing cannot occur. In such cases, vomiting takes place. If the stomach contents pass into the lungs, it will result in aspiration pneumonia, a serious illness.
The symptoms of esophageal obstruction include the following:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Chest pain after swallowing
- Inability to swallow
- Vomiting after swallowing
- Regurgitation of food
- Bleeding in vomit or stool
- Acid reflux
- Shortness of breath
- Sensation of an obstruction in the throat
- Weight loss
Esophagus blockage can be a result of various factors. Some of the common causes of esophagus blockage are given below.
- Abnormal esophagus: Some people are born with an abnormal esophagus that causes narrowing of the esophagus. The abnormalities of the esophagus include esophageal atresia; esophageal webs, a condition in which an extra tissue crosses through esophagus; and Schatzki’s ring, a condition that arises due to the formation of a ring of thick muscles around the esophagus
- Injury: Injury to the esophagus occurs due to some medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, while swallowing lye products, and during an endoscopy.
- Prolonged use of a nasogastric or stomach tube.
- Diseases such as esophageal cancer and certain ailments caused by certain virus, bacteria can cause narrowing of the esophagus
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease: Chronic heartburn is scientifically known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is a condition the stomach acids flow into the esophagus causing a burning sensation in the lower chest. The stomach acids come up and into the esophagus causing damage.
- Excessive vomiting due to bulimia or anorexia.
The preferred treatment of esophagus blockage is dilation of the esophagus. When GERD is the reason for esophageal stricture, proton pump inhibitors or anti-blocking medicines are used to prevent the esophagus stricture from returning. The narrowed esophagus is stretched by passing an endoscope through the mouth. A small balloon or tapered plastic dilator is used to stretch the esophagus.
The pain that occurs due to difficulty in swallowing can be alleviated with a few home remedies. You can ease the condition in natural ways along with allopathic treatment. Lifestyle and habit changes also come in handy to ease the condition.
- Consume small meals frequently. Instead of three big meals, opting for six small meals every day helps to relieve pain.
- While eating, ensure to take tinier bites of food and chew well before swallowing. This helps the food move through esophagus easily.
- Consume more soft foods such as custards, applesauce, puddings, and soups.
- Drink plenty of fluids while eating.
- Avoid foods that are difficult to swallow, and stay away from spicy and acidic foods (citrus fruits and tomatoes).
- Using a straw to drink beverages helps to reduce stress on the esophagus.
- Elevating the head while sleeping give relief.
Dietary changes can also help if you esophageal construction. You can go on a clear liquid diet as well as full liquid diet.
Clear liquids are transparent. Even though they contain some nutrition, generally it is not enough to meet the needs of the body. Some of the clear liquids include bouillon soup, coffee, broth, gelatin, soft drinks, popsicles without pulp, tea, fruit juices without pulp, water, and sports drinks. These can be easily absorbed by the intestines.
A full liquid diet is semi solid, and this can sustain the body for longer periods of time. Cream of wheat, pureed vegetables, pureed meat, syrups, fruit juices with pulp, soups without solid, jelly, honey, milkshakes, ice creams, vegetable juices, pudding, and yogurt are some of the full liquids.
Certain herbs help to ease esophagus pain. Herbs help to soothe tissue irritation and inflammation in the esophagus. Some of the herbs that are used as home remedies for esophagus pain include turmeric, goldenseal, Echinacea, geranium, marshmallow, and slippery elm. They are mostly used to treat the damaged mucous membranes in the esophagus.
Esophageal obstruction can be prevented by avoiding ingesting corrosive substances. If you have GERD, visit the doctor to prevent esophageal stricture.