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Esophageal varices: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The esophagus is a muscular tube part of the digestive system and connects the pharynx with the stomach. Specific liver problems can cause the veins at the end of this tube to dilate abnormally, which can rupture and cause digestive bleeding, which can sometimes be heavy and fatal. This condition is called esophageal varices. Fortunately, not all patients with this problem bleed, as this depends on the size of the varicose veins, blood pressure, and other factors. However, diagnosis and treatment are crucial to avoid possible complications. At FastlyHealwe, explain the causes, symptoms and treatment for esophageal varices.

Causes of esophageal varices

Esophageal varices usually appear as a result of liver problems, especially cirrhosis. This pathology is the final stage of chronic liver disease; After the damage to the liver, scarring occurs, triggering a poor functioning of the organ and causing its blood flow to be reduced. In this way, part of the blood that should circulate through the liver passes through the veins at the end of the esophagus.

These veins see their blood flow increase, which is why they dilate. Sometimes, the pressure can be such that the walls of the varicose veins do not resist and break, giving way to intense bleeding that can be very serious for the patient. However, cirrhosis is not the only liver disease leading to esophageal varices; any chronic liver disease can do it.

Symptoms of esophageal varices

Generally, esophageal varices without bleeding do not cause symptoms; the only way to detect them is by looking for them expressly. If a bit of bleeding originates, some dark streaks may appear in the stool, making it easier to diagnose the problem. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Heavy bleeding from varicose veins often causes
  • Black stools,
  • Vomiting blood and clots
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Pallor
  • Hypotension
  • Tachycardia and even loss of consciousness

Treatment of esophageal varices

Once the problem is diagnosed, generally through a digestive endoscopy, the treatment must be determined, which is different depending on the phase in which the varicose veins are found:

  • Esophageal varices without bleeding: if they can be detected before bleeding occurs, beta-blockers will be administered to help lower the blood pressure of varicose veins to reduce the risk of rupture. Endoscopic ligation, based on the placement of a kind of rubber ring that strangle the varicose veins through an endoscope, can also be applied in those patients who do not tolerate drugs.
  • Bleeding esophageal varices: Heavy bleeding from esophageal varices is a severe medical emergency. Faced with this situation, the goal will be to stop the bleeding and prevent further complications. For this, two different treatments are usually used: on the one hand, the injection of coagulant or vasoconstrictor drugs (somatostatin, terlipressin, or octreotide), and on the other, endoscopic ligation, as discussed above. It is often advisable to combine both treatments for a more effective result.

Patients with esophageal varices who have previously suffered bleeding are at higher risk of experiencing it again. For this reason, it is essential to carefully follow the appropriate treatment and consider, in cases of advanced liver diseases and varicose vein bleeding, the possibility of performing a liver transplant.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Esophageal Varices: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment, we recommend entering our Digestive System category.

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