A narrowed esophagus can be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and this narrowing may be the reason why you’ve been burping a lot lately or experiencing an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
For this article I asked Jay Desai, MD about this topic. Dr. Desai specializes in colon cancer screening, upper endoscopy and consultative gastroenterology at New York Gastroenterology Associates. He is available for same day appointments in their Upper East Side office.
Dr. Desai explains, “Long term acid exposure at the bottom of the esophagus can cause scarring due to constant inflammation; this is called a stricture.
“However, this is much less common today because of the use of more effective antacid medication than in the past, such as omeprazole.”
Though long term acid reflux is a risk factor for causing the esophagus (“food pipe”) to narrow, there are other risk factors as well for stricture.
These include diverticulosis (pouches in the colon), pain drugs including aspirin, prior surgery to the esophagus, skin diseases and scleroderma.
Symptoms of a Narrowed Esophagus
Heartburn — burning or abrasive sensation in your chest and/or upper abdomen. It may also be more of an aching sensation without the burning feel.
Bad or bitter taste in the mouth, especially in the morning or middle of the night.
Burping for no apparent reason (e.g., drinking soda)
Pain or problems swallowing. Keep in mind that many unrelated conditions can cause issues related to swallowing.
Unintentional weight loss, though this can have causes other than GERD such as untreated type 2 diabetes.