Shrinkage of food pipe may lead you to serious trouble: Learn all about it

From choking to breathing difficulties, dehydration to pulmonary aspiration, food pipe shrinkage can land you in serious troubles. Find all about this condition.

While we talk about health conditions related to body organs, our food pipe or esophagus is the last thing we care about. However, with an increasing incidence of food pipe shrinkage or benign esophageal stricture in recent days, doctors do suggest that it is high time we become aware of this condition. Otherwise, lack of awareness can land you in serious trouble.

Benign esophageal stricture implies to narrowing or tightening of the esophagus or your food pipe that passes your food from the mouth to your stomach. It is non-cancerous and takes place when the lining of your food pipe is eventually damaged by stomach acids and other irritants, leading to inflammation or esophagitis and scar tissue. From difficulty in swallowing to increased risk of choking and complete blockage of your food pipe, this condition can result in severe health issues.

The risk factors and causes

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Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called as acid reflux can potentially damage your food pipe's lining and narrow it down. GERD develops when lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between your food pipe and stomach does not close or tighten well, allowing the stomach acid to flow back to the food pipe. This results in formation of scar tissue in food pipe accompanied with a burning sensation.

Also, radiation therapy to the chest or neck, accidental swallowing of acids or any other corrosive substance, prolonged use of nasogastric tube, a food pipe damage caused by an endoscope and treating of esophageal varices where enlarged veins in esophagus rupture causing severe bleeding are other potent factors leading to shrinkage of food pipe.

You need to check out these signs

These symptoms will help you identify if you are suffering from benign esophageal stricture.

  • difficult or painful swallowing
  • unintended weight loss
  • regurgitation of food or liquids
  • sensation of something stuck in the chest after you eat
  • frequent burping or hiccups
  • heartburn

Diet and lifestyle modification can help you abate this condition

Apart from choking of food pipe and difficulty in breathing, shrinkage of food pipe can cause dehydration and malnutrition and increases the risk of pulmonary aspiration. This develops when you have fluids, food and vomit filling up your lungs. Thus, it is important to know how diet and lifestyle management can help you tackle this condition effectively.

  • Lift-up your pillow to prevent stomach acid from flowing back to the food pipe.
  • Cut down on your weight.
  • Go for smaller meals
  • Do not eat in the three hours before bedtime
  • Give up smoking and stay away from alcohol
  • Avoid spicy foods, fatty foods, carbonated beverages, chocolates, coffee and caffeinated products, tomato-based foods and citrus fruits.

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