What causes esophagus symptoms?
Esophagus symptoms have many possible causes. Most commonly, esophagus symptoms are the result of overeating, drinking alcohol while eating, or consuming greasy or spicy foods. Esophagus symptoms can be caused by digestive conditions such as acid reflux or lactose intolerance. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another possible cause of esophagus symptoms. Inflammatory diseases or cancers affecting the gallbladder, pancreas or stomach may also result in esophagus symptoms. Other causes of esophagus symptoms include herpes and Candida infections. In rare cases, esophagus symptoms can be a sign of a cardiovascular problem such as a heart attack or angina (chest pain due to the heart not getting enough oxygen).
Common causes of esophagus symptoms
Esophagus symptoms can have common causes including:
- Alcohol abuse
- Candidia infection
- Dyspepsia (indigestion)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which acidic stomach contents flow back into the esophagus
- Herpesvirus infection
- Repeated vomiting
- Swallowing pills, such as vitamin C, doxycycline, tetracycline, or alendronate (Fosamax), without enough water
Other causes of esophagus symptoms
Other possible causes of esophagus symptoms include:
- Barrett’s esophagus (cellular changes in the esophagus that may lead to esophageal cancer)
- Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
- Hiatal hernia (protrusion of the stomach into the chest, through a hole in the diaphragm)
Causes of swallowing difficulty
Swallowing difficulty is another esophagus symptom. It can be caused by esophageal conditions including:
- Achalasia (disorder of the esophagus that impairs its ability to propel food down to the stomach)
- Esophageal narrowing due to radiation, chemicals or medications
- Esophageal spasms
- Nutcracker esophagus (disorder characterized by abnormal contractions of the muscles of the esophagus)
- Schatzki’s ring (abnormal ring of tissue in the lower esophagus)
Neurological and muscular causes of swallowing difficulty
Swallowing difficulty can also be caused by neurological and muscular conditions including:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a severe neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness and disability)
- Muscular dystrophy (inherited disorder that causes progressive muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue)
- Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing weakness, coordination and balance difficulties, and other problems)
- Parkinson’s disease (brain disorder that impairs movement and coordination)
- Polymyositis (widespread inflammation and weakness of the muscles)
- Scleroderma (connective tissue disorder characterized by thickening and stiffening of the skin)
Serious or life-threatening causes of esophagus symptoms
In some cases, esophagus symptoms may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:
- Angina (chest pain due to the heart not receiving enough oxygen)
- Esophageal cancer
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
Questions for diagnosing the cause of esophagus symptoms
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your esophagus symptoms including:
- When did you first notice your esophagus symptoms?
- When do you feel esophagus symptoms?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- What medications are you taking?
What are the potential complications of esophagus symptoms?
Because esophagus symptoms can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Bleeding esophageal varices (life-threatening rupture and hemorrhage of swollen veins in the esophagus)
- Esophageal scarring and narrowing
- Perforated esophagus
- Poor nutrition due to a decreased desire to eat
- Poor quality of life
- Spread of cancer
- Spread of infection
Heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gerd/. Accessed May 6, 2011.
Indigestion. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/indigestion/. Accessed May 6, 2011.
What are the signs of esophagus problems?
Esophagus symptoms include pain or a burning feeling in the throat or chest, and belching. They commonly result from overeating, drinking alcohol while eating, or consuming greasy or spicy foods. Esophagus symptoms can also result from inflammation, infection, or dysfunction in the stomach or esophagus itself. Impaire... Read more about esophagus symptoms introduction
What other symptoms might occur with esophagus symptoms?
Esophagus symptoms may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the esophagus and associated digestive organs may also involve other body systems.... Read more about esophagus symptoms symptoms