All digestion begins with a swallow. While the first swallow is intentional, after that the esophagus takes over and pushes the food down with a series of involuntary contractions. The tube of the esophagus connects the throat with the stomach via a ringlike valve. When food hits that valve, it relaxes and opens, leaving the esophagus empty again. Glands within the esophagus moisten it and help you swallow.
A variety of conditions can cause the esophagus to work improperly. Sometimes, to help people swallow, the esophagus needs to be stretched or dilated to offer relief. Often what is called heartburn is coming from issues in the esophagus. If heartburn is chronic, seeing a doctor can keep it from developing into more serious conditions.
When the valve leading to the stomach malfunctions, gastric acid and bile can backwash into the esophagus causing heartburn and a condition known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). As many as 20% of the population suffer from this condition for which a number of effective medicines have been developed. This exposure can cause long-term problems, including the breakdown of the cells in the esophagus and even cancer.
Advanced GERD can result in Barrett’s Esophagus, which affects up to 10% of frequent heartburn or indigestion sufferers. This condition can be identified with an endoscope, and destroyed with radio-frequency ablation in appropriate patients as it has precancerous potential. If not ablated, it needs to be monitored.
Symptoms of problems with the esophagus may include heartburn, hoarseness, chronic cough, trouble swallowing, throat pain, vomiting, and hiccups. Lifestyle habits such as long-term smoking and alcohol use can add to esophageal damage.
Diseases and Conditions We Treat:
Disorders of swallowing
Esophagel tumors-benign and malignant