Esophageal varices: cause, symptoms and prevention. Various therapeutic treatments based on the conditions that lead to the diagnosis of the pathology.
The term esophageal varices refers to the pathological dilation of the lower veins of the esophagus caused by the collapse of the wall due to an increase in venous pressure. The greatest risk of esophageal varices is their rupture and possible bleeding. The most frequent cause of esophageal varices is represented by chronic diseases of the liver and, more rarely, of the spleen.
Esophageal varices, symptoms
Often, esophageal varices are asymptomatic and the symptoms that occur can be confused with other less serious disorders. There are no obvious symptoms until a series of conditions arise that lead to the diagnosis of the disease. Let's see what they are:
- Black stools (melena): Black stools are caused by the presence of blood. This condition occurs due to the rupture of the veins. It should be noted that black feces are not enough to validate the diagnosis.
- Manifestation of asudden intestinal bleeding (blood vomiting): at first dizziness or nausea may occur, in severe cases it is possible to vomit blood. In this case, first aid is recommended.
- Loss of consciousness: usually occurs as a result of bleeding produced by esophageal varices, leading to dizziness and fainting in the most severe cases.
It should be emphasized that the aforementioned symptoms cannot in any way be neglected. Even if it is not esophageal varices, these events are seriously compromising your health.
Esophageal varices, diagnosis and treatment
Esophageal varices are highlighted during an endoscopy, a direct examination of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum which is performed by introducing a tube equipped with an optical system by mouth.
Based on the classification of esophageal varices, the doctor will choose a certain treatment. Among the possible options:
- Pharmacological treatment: in the absence of bleeding, drugs should be administered in order to relieve the pressure of the varices
- Endoscopic ligation: in case of intolerance or side effects towards pharmacological treatment, we opt for the ligation of the esophageal varices through rubber rings in order to favor their disappearance
- Endoscopic sclerotherapy: used in case of bleeding and consists in injecting a substance into the esophageal veins.
- Surgical shunts: are surgical interventions aimed at decompressing the portal vein, in order to divert the flow towards the cava or renal vein
- Transplant: liver transplant is the last resort
It should be noted that any clinical treatment can lead to unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, diarrhea, nausea. For this reason, it will be necessary to perform a follow-up by the specialist to understand which treatment may prove to be more functional and suitable.
People most at risk
Although esophageal varices can appear from other complications, individuals with liver problems or those who have had thrombosis are at increased risk. In this regard, it is advisable to lead a healthy lifestyle and above all to eat properly.
Esophageal varices, prevention
- Maintain a healthy weight
- not smoking
- do not use drugs
- engage in physical activity
- Reduce the intake of drugs if they are not necessary: paracetamol, NSAIDs
- Do not take food supplements if not necessary, especially proteins and amino acids
- Follow a correct diet: no to large meals, fatty and fried foods, high-calorie foods
- Do not drink alcohol and spirits
- Decrease the daily salt intake
- Prefer foods with a low glycemic index and high in fiber
- Avoid sweeteners and dyes
- Avoid fasting;
In the presence of dark stools, dizziness or vomiting of blood, it is good to see your doctor in a timely manner. Quick treatment can reduce the pain and discomfort, as well as prevent the situation from getting worse.
Large esophageal varices at risk of rupture can cause very serious bleeding that can compromise the patient's life. Do not underestimate the symptoms that could lead to the diagnosis of esophageal varices in order to reduce the risk of mortality.