The sophagus is a part of the digestive system that connects the mouth and the stomach. When the food is swallowed, it travels to the stomach via the esophagus. This long and hollow tube is lined with mucus and when this mucus gets damaged, it results in an ulcer.
Invariably, it has been seen that people suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux disease are prone to getting ulcers in the esophagus. When there is a problem with lower esophageal sphincter, it allows the contents of the stomach to regurgitate into the esophagus. The digestive acid present in the regurgitated food erodes the mucus layer and this causes sores to form. These sores are nothing but ulcers. At other times, due to Helicobacter pylori, which is a bacterium present in the digestive tract, ulcers in the esophagus can also form. When the number of this bacterium increases, it can find its way into the esophagus causing damage to the delicate mucus layer. This, in turn, results in the formation of an ulcer. Alternatively, the bacterium can be ingested via food and water that is contaminated. Another cause of esophageal ulcers is taking anti-inflammatory medications. When these medications are taken for prolonged period of time, they can irritate the lining of the esophagus causing the ulcers. Also, smoking and drinking alcohol can cause ulcers in the esophagus.
The symptoms of esophageal ulcers are similar to the symptoms experienced by people suffering from gastro-esophageal reflux disease. The most frequently seen symptoms are as follows:
• Pain in the esophagus that is concentrated behind and below the breast bone.
• Heartburn that tends to come and go and the symptoms of the heartburn tend to aggravate after consuming spicy food or not eating food when feeling hungry.
• Vomiting with the vomitus containing little blood or bloody streaks.
• Reduction in appetite
• Loss of weight
• A feeling of fullness in the stomach
If the ulcer is not treated, the person may have complications such as Barrett’s esophagus wherein the mucus layer undergoes changes. In addition, the person will also complain of pain in the chest, have difficulty while swallowing, vomit out blood and have blood in the stools.
Having an ulcer in the esophagus can be extremely painful. You should get the problem checked by a doctor, who will then prescribe a course of treatment. If the ulcer is due to bacterial infection, then antibiotics will be prescribed. On the other hand, if the ulcer is due to gastro-esophageal reflux disease, then the person would have to make dietary changes. In case these measures do not help, then the doctor may recommend a surgery.