Definition

Esophageal stricture happens when the esophagus narrows. It’s hard to get food down the tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach. The tube is called the esophagus.

Esophageal Stricture

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Causes

Scar tissue mainly causes esophageal stricture. This may happen because of:

  • Eating or drinking harmful substances such as household cleaning agents
  • Treating esophageal varices—enlarged veins
  • Injuries caused by an endoscope—a thin, lighted tube used to see inside the body
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Structural problems

Risk Factors

Your chances of esophageal stricture is higher for:

Symptoms

Common symptoms:

  • Problems when you swallow such as pain
  • A feeling of food being stuck
  • Regurgitation
  • Drooling, coughing, choking
  • Problems getting enough fluids or nutrition

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:

Treatment

You may need one or more of these:

  • Esophageal dilation—To stretch or widen the esophagus. A scope is passed through your mouth. It then goes into the esophagus. A balloon or plastic dilator will widen and open the narrowed part.
  • Medicines—In some people, GERD causes these problems. Your doctor may give you medicines. These will lower the amount of acid in the stomach. They may also help keep the narrowing from coming back.
  • Surgery—may be needed if the stricture:
    • Is severe
    • Can't be fixed with other methods

Prevention

To help lower your chances of esophageal stricture:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions on caring for certain conditions that cause it.
  • Get help right away if you or someone else swallowed harmful substances.
  • Keep harmful substances locked up and away from children.