The esophagus is a tube that helps the passage of food from the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal ulcer is a condition where sores and lesions appear on the inner lining of the esophagus. Persistent Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a primary reason why ulcers develop. The incidence of the discussed symptom is less common as compared to stomach ulcers. The gastric acids and enzymes escape and flow backward into the esophagus due to an abnormally functioning sphincter muscle. These acids corrode the surface of the mucus lining of the esophagus causing sore patches.
The condition is not contagious. However, it can cause pain below the breastbone and severe discomfort. Diagnosis of esophageal ulcers are slow and it can recur very often.
Esophageal ulcer can lead to Esophageal Cancer which is growing very fast in the Western Countries. According to 1998 surveys, this cancer is one among the top 10 cancers causing death in American men.
Watch the video below to see how esophageal ulcers appear in an endoscopic examination of the esophagus.
- Esophageal ulcers are mainly caused due to Helicobacter pylori bacteria and by the acidic digestive juices released by the stomach which damages the inner lining of the esophageal tube.
- Other causes include smoking, chewing tobacco, heavy usage of Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and gastro esophageal reflex disease (GERD).
- Complications involved in this ulcer are bleeding and perforation of esophagus. Bleeding ulcers are very complicated. They should be treated immediately.
- Severe pain in the stomach after meals and burning sensation in the heart are common. Reverse flow of blood in the heart due to blockage of valves and vomiting are the other symptoms.
- People with complications in esophagus also experience cough, asthma, lung infection, throat and lungs inflammation and fluid in sinuses.
Esophageal ulcer has to be treated according to the cause. To test the presence of esophageal ulcer the following tests can be performed.
4. Test for acids
Management of Esophageal Ulcer
Individuals with this condition would require a special diet to help heal the condition. In this article, we are going to focus on the diet and lifestyle strategies to manage Esophageal Ulcer.
Certain diet modifications are mandatory to manage these ulcers. They are as follows:
- It is extremely important to eat small meals so that the contents of the stomach exert less pressure on the sphincter valve and cannot force it open. If the contents of the stomach and acids do not flow back in to the esophagus then the lining would not be further damaged. Neither the existing ulcers would be further damaged.
- The food taken should not be extremely hot. It should be soft textured and without skin and seeds. Avoid overstuffing your mouth. Eat small amounts at a time.
- Refrain from having spicy food as it may increase the burning sensation in the chest.
- Stay away from acidic foods like citrus fruits, vinegar, salad dressing, sauces etc.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol as this will only harm the lesions.
- Stay away from caffeine, carbonated drinks and fried foods.
- Include foods which are low fat and have a high nutritional profile.
Apart from the above dietary changes, certain lifestyle changes are also mandatory which are as follows:
- Regular exercise is essential to boost the different life processes in the body, digestion being one of them. An efficient digestive process definitely depends on good metabolism. Exercise and maintenance of a healthy weight is extremely important when it comes to managing esophageal ulcer.
- Stress is often a major reason associated with ulcers. Making a conscious effort to reduce stress in life would help heal these sores.
- Eating on time and at regular intervals is necessary to control the over production of acids.