Esophageal Spasms: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Esophageal spasms are muscle spasms in the esophagus that can cause minor to severe symptoms such as difficulty swallowing and chest pain. Medication and other therapies can often help, but surgery is rare; if you have severe chest pain, seek medical attention right away.
What is the esophagus?
The esophagus is the tube that carries food and drink from your mouth to your stomach after you swallow.
How does the esophagus work?
The esophagus is the tube that transports food and liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Sphincters (muscular valves) open and close to allow food and liquid to pass between your mouth and stomach, but these contractions may not work properly if you have esophageal spasms.
Is there more than one type of esophageal spasm?
Diffuse (or distal) spasms cause food or liquid that has already been swallowed to return up your throat.
How common are esophageal spasms?
The exact cause of esophageal spasms is unknown, but some medical experts believe the problem is caused by faulty nerves or too much acid in the esophagus. The symptoms can occur after eating or drinking hot or very cold food or drink.
What are the symptoms of esophageal spasms?
Esophageal spasms can cause mild to severe symptoms; if you have worsening, unexplained chest pain that lasts more than five minutes, call your doctor. Symptoms can last a few minutes or more than an hour, and some people have no symptoms after an esophagus operation.
What do esophageal spasms feel like?
If you have esophageal spasms, you may experience chest pain, difficulty swallowing foods or liquids (dysphagia), or something stuck in your throat (regurgitation). Treatments include: home remedies and over-the-counter medications. Botox injections temporarily paralyze the esophageal muscles, stopping spasms.
What is the prognosis (outlook) for people with esophageal spasms?
Many people with esophageal spasms have few or no symptoms, so if you’re having trouble swallowing or have persistent heartburn, talk to your doctor. Symptoms can make eating difficult, which can lead to nutritional imbalances over time. Chronic pain can cause you to withdraw from activities you enjoy or take an emotional toll.
What causes spasms of the esophagus?
Certain foods and drinks, such as red wine and foods that are too hot or cold, can cause esophageal spasm. gastroesophageal reflex disease (GERD), especially if it has resulted in scarring or narrowing of the esophagus. some cancer treatments, such as esophageal surgery or chest, neck, or head radiation.
When do esophageal spasms occur?
WHO IS AT RISK FOR ESOPHAGEAL SPASMS? People between the ages of 60 and 80 are at the greatest risk of developing esophageal spasms, and the risk appears to be higher in people with high blood pressure, anxiety, or depression.
Can esophageal spasms feel like heart palpitations?
Symptoms of esophageal spasms include difficulty swallowing and chest pain, which can wake you up and make you feel like you’re having a heart attack.
Can stress cause esophageal spasms?
In some cases, underlying conditions such as depression, anxiety, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause esophageal spasms, which can be treated with a combination of medications, therapy, and stress-management techniques.
How do you relax an esophageal spasm?
To help you cope with esophageal spasms, try the following:
- Make a list of foods and beverages that cause esophageal spasms and avoid them.
- Suck a peppermint lozenge.
- Choose food that is warm or cool. Let foods and drinks that are very hot or very cold sit for a bit before eating or drinking them.
How long can esophageal spasms last?
Esophageal spasms are painful contractions of the muscular tube that connects your mouth and stomach (esophagus). They can feel like sudden, severe chest pain that lasts anywhere from a few minutes to hours, and some people mistake them for heart pain (angina).
What is a jackhammer esophagus?
Jackhammer esophagus is a condition in which the muscular action of the esophagus (also known as “dysmotility”) is disrupted by high-amplitude abnormal contractions (“spasm”) of the esophageal muscle, which are much more forceful and discoordinated than normal contractions.
Can anxiety cause throat spasms?
This ring of muscle can become tense when you’re stressed, giving the impression that something is stuck in your throat or that your throat is tight.
Are esophageal spasms life threatening?
Esophageal spasms can be inconvenient, causing pain or difficulty swallowing, but they aren’t considered a serious health risk. Esophageal spasms aren’t known to cause esophageal cancer.
What does a diaphragm spasm feel like?
A diaphragm spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that causes a fluttering sensation in the chest, as well as temporary tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.
What can I drink to soothe my esophagus?
Licorice helps increase the mucus coating of the esophageal lining, which helps calm the effects of stomach acid. Chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow may be better herbal remedies to soothe GERD symptoms.
What are the symptoms of an inflamed esophagus?
The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of esophagitis:
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Painful swallowing.
- Eating-related chest pain, especially behind the breastbone.
- Swallowed food becoming stuck in the esophagus (food impaction)
- Acid regurgitation.
Do muscle relaxers help esophageal spasms?
Smooth muscle relaxants may help your muscles and esophagus relax so it is easier for you to swallow, as well as reduce your pain and swallowing difficulty.
How do you relax a hiatal hernia?
Exercises and stretches to help with hiatal hernia symptoms
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest while lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Inhale deeply until your stomach presses against your hand.
Will Tums help esophageal spasms?
Treat other conditions that can exacerbate esophageal spasms, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). For mild or occasional indigestion, antacids like Tums or Gaviscon may be helpful.