The function of the esophagus is to transport food from the mouth to the stomach. Synchronized (peristaltic) contractions follow each swallow to accomplish this task. Between swallows, the esophagus usually does not contract. The lower esophageal sphincter (or LES) is a muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach. It acts like a valve that normally stays tightly closed to prevent acid in the stomach from backing up into the esophagus. When we swallow, the LES opens up (the muscle relaxes) so that the food we swallow can enter the stomach.
Difficulty swallowing liquids or solids, heartburn, regurgitation, and atypical (or non-cardiac) chest pain may be symptoms of an esophageal motility disorder. Examples of motility disorders of the esophagus that are described below include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), dysphagia, achalasia, and functional chest pain.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Functional Chest Pain