Esophageal ulcers occur in the lower end of your esophagus. These ulcers are often associated with a bad case of acid reflux, or GERD as it is commonly called.
Esophageal Ulcers are defined as open sores or lesions in the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach). These ulcers usually cause pain that is felt behind or just below your breastbone, similar to the area where you would feel heartburn symptoms.
Healing is slow and these ulcers can recur quite often. Chronic and severe recurrences can result in a narrowing of your esophagus after healing.
It is important to note that curing acid reflux early is the key to preventing major problems and possible complications later.
Ulcers in the esophagus are usually associated with chronic gastro esophageal reflux disease (more commonly known as acid reflux or GERD.
Your esophagus does not have the same mucous lining that your stomach has to protect itself against your stomach acid. When excessive stomach acid refluxes from your stomach up into your esophagus, it can corrode the lining of your esophagus over a relatively short period of time. This eventually leads to inflammation of the esophagus (known as esophagitis), and then later to ulceration.
Other common causes are:
Your doctor can diagnose esophageal ulcers with a barium x-ray or endoscopy. Click here to find out more about these procedures.
Complications of ulcers include bleeding and perforation. Ulcers and their resulting inflammation can erode into the esophageal blood vessels and give rise to bleeding into the esophagus. Bleeding ulcers are dangerous and should be treated immediately.
Prolonged or severe acid reflux (severe heartburn) causes changes in the cells that line the esophagus. These cells then become pre-cancerous, and finally cancerous.
Esophageal cancer is currently the fastest growing cancer in the western world. This type of cancer may result from a condition known as Barrett's Esophagus, which can stem from chronic Acid reflux (GERD).
Esophageal narrowing and Barrett's Esophagus (an abnormal lining of the bottom part of the esophagus) are long-term complications from esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus). Barrett's esophagus is also know Barrett's Syndrome, and is a marker for severe reflux and may be a sign of onset of esophageal cancer.
In 1998 surveys showed that esophageal cancer was one of the 10 leading cancers causing death among men in the USA.
People who have Barrett's esophagus are at increased risk, as are people who have chronic acid reflux problems.
Esophageal ulcers are very sensitive to small amounts of acid, much more so than gastric and duodenal ulcers. Doctors regularly prescribe proton-pump inhibitors to suppress your stomach acid. The logic of acid reduction is good for esophageal ulcer healing, but the real results can be far from good.
Treating the symptoms only is not going to lead to the result you are looking for. So we recommend that these ulcer medications should be avoided at all costs as they can do more harm than good. Treatment should rather be directed at the underlying cause - 90% of cases will show that an infection of H. pylori in the stomach is to blame.
Most of the remaining cause is the result of prolonged use of NSAID's. Stopping smoking is also a good idea!
Esophageal narrowing is usually treated with drug therapy and by a process of repeated dilation to widen parts of your esophagus - dilation is performed by using balloons or progressively larger dilators called bougies (cone-shaped tubes).
No matter what type of stomach ulcer you have, it will require some form of treatment, and obviously you hope and trust that your treatment is going to work for you. Unfortunately you will need to do some homework to ensure this happens.
If you don't want to take a chance on accepting any treatment that has any chance of failure, then we strongly urge you to keep reading.... because we want you to have the real facts so you can make an educated decision about choosing a treatment that will work for you.
Everyone agrees that it makes sense to treat the cause, rather than to treat the symptoms. And you want to be able to treat the cause as comfortably as possible, without having to endure weeks, and possibly months, of ongoing medication - and the inevitable negative side effects.
REMEMBER! The main cause of all types of stomach ulcers is Helicobacter Pylori.
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