Esophageal ulcer is a kind of peptic ulcer which affects the esophagus - the passage where food travels from the throat to the stomach. These ulcers are open sores or lesions which form in the lining of the esophagus. Experts say that excess production of the stomach acid is responsible for corroding the lining of the esophagus, causing it to inflame and eventually producing an ulcer. This condition is commonly associated with long-term use of pain relievers, smoking, infection by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, and acid reflux.
Symptoms Caused By Esophageal Ulcer
One classic symptom is a dull or burning pain. It is common with all forms of peptic ulcers. The affected person may feel the pain radiating within the areas starting from the navel up to the breastbone. The pain worsens when the ulcer comes in contact with the stomach acid, and may last from a few minutes to several hours and may disappear only to return after a few days or weeks. The ulcer has the tendency to damage the tissue of the esophagus, and the scars which result from this may narrow down the passage. This in turn gives rise to other esophageal symptoms, the most common of which includes difficulty in swallowing solid foods. While swallowing something, the sufferer may feel as if he/she has a lump in his/her throat. Apart from these symptoms, breathing problems such as wheezing or shortness of breath may also occur. Sore throat, excessive salivation, hoarseness and inflammation of the sinus membranes are also some of the symptoms that may indicate esophageal ulcer.
One less common symptom is vomiting blood. This blood, when passes through the digestive tract, may cause the expulsion of dark or bloody stools. The patient may even vomit some blood which may appear black or tarry. Unexplained weight loss and changes in appetite are also some of the rare but severe symptoms of esophageal ulcer.
Ulcers are known to resolve on their own, however, treatment may be necessary to prevent serious complications. As most peptic ulcers have bacteria to blame for, the treatment would involve use of antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. Other medications that might be prescribed would help blocking the production of acid, and aid in healing as well. These drugs could be obtained over-the-counter or may be prescribed by the doctor.
Acid blockers, which help in reducing the amount of acid being released into the digestive tract may also form a part of the treatment, and so may antacids, whose function is to neutralize stomach acid.
Although it has been mentioned that ulcers are self-healing, treating the condition becomes a necessity when the symptoms do not seem to improve but worsen with time. Apart from taking medications as prescribed by your doctor, practice some self-care measures at home to speed up your healing time. A diet that contains plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains offer great help in healing conditions such as ulcers. Although stress does not cause ulcers, it may worsen them. So find ways to control stress and reduce it. Smoking increases production of stomach acid, so shunning it would be a healthy choice to make, and so would be limiting or avoiding alcohol.