- 6 Months ago
These are irregular, uncoordinated and sometimes powerful contractions of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Esophageal spasms can feel like sudden, severe chest pain that lasts from a few minutes to hours. Sometimes, the muscle contractions that are frequent can prevent food and liquids from travelling through the esophagus, further leading to chronic pain and swallowing problems.
The exact cause of esophageal spasms is not known. But doctors believe that it results from a disruption in the nerve activity that coordinates the swallowing action of the esophagus. In some people, very cold or very hot foods may trigger an episode.
There are two types of esophageal spasms and they are:
• Diffuse esophageal spasms: These occur occasionally in the esophageal muscles often accompanied by regurgitation of food or liquids.
• Nutcracker esophagus: This type of spasm squeezes the esophagus in a coordinated way, the same way food is moved down the esophagus normally. But the squeezing is quite strong. The contractions move food through the esophagus but can cause severe pain.
The symptoms of esophageal spasms include:
• Squeezing pain in your chest which is intense
• Difficulty swallowing
• Regurgitation (return of food and liquids back up to your esophagus)
• A feeling that an object is stuck in your throat
Esophageal spasms are diagnosed with a series of tests such as X-rays, esophageal manometry or endoscopy based on your signs and symptoms. This condition is more common in women than in men. Those who have heartburn, anxiety, GERD and eat or drink very cold or very hot food or drinks are at an increased risk of having esophageal spasms.
You can cope with occasional esophageal spasms by:
• Identifying your triggers that cause these spasms such as cold or hot foods and drinks
• Choosing food that is warm or cool
• Finding healthy ways to manage stress
If you experience squeezing chest pain, seek medical attention right away to make sure it's not a heart problem!