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Esophageal stricture

An esophageal stricture is a narrowing in one area of the esophagus, the tube that carries food and liquid to your stomach. It most often happens close to where the esophagus meets the stomach. A stricture can make it hard to swallow. You may feel like food gets stuck in your esophagus.

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach acid can flow backward into the esophagus. This can damage the lining of your esophagus and cause a stricture.

Other things that can cause a stricture include:

  • Surgery, radiation, or other treatments on the esophagus.
  • Some diseases and infections.
  • Reactions to some chemicals or medicines.
  • Symptoms

    What are the symptoms when something is stuck in your throat?

    You may not have any symptoms when something is stuck in your esophagus. But when symptoms are present, they may include:

    • Rapid, noisy, or high-pitched breathing.
    • Increased drooling.
    • Trouble swallowing, pain when swallowing, or complete inability to swallow.
    • Gagging.
    • Vomiting.
    • Not wanting to eat solids.
    • Pain in the neck, chest, or abdomen.
    • Feeling that something is stuck in your throat.
  • Diagnosis

    How are esophageal strictures diagnosed?

    Your doctor may check your esophagus if you are having trouble swallowing or if you feel like food is getting stuck. The doctor will use a tool called an endoscope, or scope. It's a thin, flexible, lighted viewing tool. It goes into the mouth and down the throat. Your doctor can use it to check for any problems. The scope can also be used to take a sample of tissue to test (biopsy).

    You might need an X-ray. For the X-ray, you may need to swallow a substance, such as barium, that makes it easier to see what happens in your esophagus.

  • Treatment

    What are the symptoms when something is stuck in your throat?

    You may not have any symptoms when something is stuck in your esophagus. But when symptoms are present, they may include:

    • Rapid, noisy, or high-pitched breathing.
    • Increased drooling.
    • Trouble swallowing, pain when swallowing, or complete inability to swallow.
    • Gagging.
    • Vomiting.
    • Not wanting to eat solids.
    • Pain in the neck, chest, or abdomen.
    • Feeling that something is stuck in your throat.

    Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.