1. Gastrointestinal Issues
Individuals living with scleroderma may experience some irregularities ranging from the mouth to the anal canal of the gastrointestinal tract and digestive tract. Thickening and scarring (fibrosis) of the tissue in these areas occurs due to the overproduction of collagen and can lead to weakened muscles and slow movement of food through the digestive system (dysmotility).
2. Gastrointestinal Issues: Esophageal Dysfunction
When we eat, food goes from the mouth, down the throat and into the stomach through the tube known as the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter should act like a trap door, preventing food from coming back up the esophagus after it’s entered the stomach.
However, people with scleroderma often find that this trap door doesn’t work correctly and they experience a backwash of acid and a burning sensation (also known as heartburn) as the food and stomach acid comes back up the esophagus.
This process may cause injury to the lower portion of the esophagus.