The esophageal varices are abnormal and enlarged veins in the lower esophagus – the tube that connects the throat and stomach.
Signs and Symptoms
Esophageal varices do not usually show signs or symptoms, except when they bleed. Signs and symptoms of bleeding esophageal varices include:
- Vomiting and a significant amount of blood in the vomit
- Black, dark or bloody stools
- Loss of consciousness (in severe cases)
- Yellow pigmentation of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Tendency to bleeding and bruising
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
When to consult with the doctor?
Ask for a consultation with a doctor if you have signs or symptoms that worry you. If you were diagnosed with liver disease, consult your doctor about the risk of developing esophageal varices and how you can reduce the risk of these complications.
Sometimes, esophageal varices form when the flow of blood to the liver is obstructed; often due to scar tissue in the liver caused by liver disease.
The causes of esophageal varices include:
- Acute hepatic scarring (cirrhosis).
- Blood clot (thrombosis).
While many people with the advanced liver disease develop esophageal varices, most do not have to bleed. Varicose veins are more likely to bleed in the following cases:
- High pressure in the portal vein.
- Large varicose veins
- Red marks on the varices.
- Severe cirrhosis or liver failure.
- Continuous consumption of alcohol.
If you have cirrhosis, your doctor should evaluate you for esophageal varices. These are the tests used to diagnose esophageal varices.
- Endoscope examination
- Image tests
- Endoscopic capsule
Treatment and Management
Drugs to reduce the pressure in the blood vessels
Elastic bands to tie the bleeding vessel
Beta-blocker medications are effective in preventing bleeding in many people with esophageal varices, they do not prevent the formation of esophageal varices themselves.
If you have been diagnosed with liver disease, ask your doctor about the strategies to avoid the complications of liver disease. To keep the liver healthy:
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Use chemicals with moderation and care.
- Reduces the risk of getting hepatitis.