Esophageal and Swallowing Disorders

Esophageal and swallowing disorders can cause pain and discomfort that interfere with your ability to eat, sleep, and manage daily tasks. Esophageal conditions include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis

The Mount Sinai Health System excels in treating esophageal and swallowing disorders.

Barrett’s Esophagus

One complication you might face as a result of acid reflux is Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous condition of the esophagus that is believed to result from long-standing acid injury. Surgery was once the only effective means of treating Barrett’s esophagus, but today, at Mount Sinai, you can benefit from nonsurgical options as well.

For instance, your doctor may prescribe medications to heal your esophagus from an accumulation of stomach acid. Your doctor may alternatively recommend an endoscopy every few years to monitor your esophagus for further signs of damage.

Mount Sinai has several ongoing National Institutes of Health-funded research trials looking at the early detection of Barrett’s-associated cancers, esophageal squamous cell cancer, and colon cancer.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Other Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Diseases

The Mount Sinai Health System is highly experienced in treating eosinophilic diseases, especially eosinophilic esophagitis — the most common eosinophilic gastrointestinal disease (EGID). Eosinophilic esophagitis is an inflammatory condition in which the wall of your esophagus fills with eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, making it difficult for you to swallow food or liquids. Eosinophilic esophagitis affects both children and adults. For unknown reasons, men are more commonly affected than women.

In most cases, dietary measures and medications can significantly improve symptoms and control eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases. Testing for food allergies and eliminating any foods from your diet that you tested positive for is an option. Some medications may improve symptoms, although they may not necessarily decrease your eosinophil numbers.

In August 2010, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) renewed its funding of the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), providing an additional $29.9 million toward genetic research and the prevention and treatment of food allergy. Mount Sinai is the primary research site for CoFAR, leading seven other institutions around the country. The grant will also fund new genetic research specifically on eosinophilic esophagitis.

Esophageal Motility Disorders

When you swallow, muscular contractions move food from your esophagus to your stomach. Abnormal contractions interfere with this movement, making it difficult for you to swallow food and liquids. This is known as a motility disorder.

Symptoms of a motility disorder include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Incontinence
  • Weight loss

Esophageal manometry is a test Mount Sinai uses to diagnose swallowing problems. In this procedure, we measure the pressure inside your esophagus. A thin, pressure-sensitive tube is passed through your mouth or nose and into your stomach. Once the tube is in your esophagus, we will ask you to swallow. We will then measure the pressure inside your esophagus at several points. We may also use an esophageal pH test to determine if you have acid reflux.

We Can Help

At Mount Sinai, we manage your motility disorder in a nurturing environment, often with integrated support from a team including a dietician and a health psychologist. Our team’s priority is to treat each patient in a dignified and caring manner while quickly bringing symptoms under control.

Please call us to learn how we can help you or a loved one. We are conveniently located in the Upper East Side of New York City.