Diffuse esophageal spasm (patient information)
Diffuse esophageal spasm
Diffuse esophageal spasm On the Web
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Diffuse esophageal spasms are abnormal contractions of the muscles in the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). These spasms do not move food effectively to the stomach.
What are the symptoms of Diffuse esophageal spasm?
- Difficulty swallowing or pain with swallowing
- Pain in the chest or upper abdomen
It can be hard to tell a spasm from angina pectoris, a symptom of heart disease. The pain may spread to the neck, jaw, arms, or back
What causes Diffuse esophageal spasm?
The cause of diffuse esophageal spasm is unknown. Very hot or very cold foods may trigger an episode in some people.
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of diffuse esophageal spasm that don't go away.
Nitroglycerin given under the tongue (sublingual) may be effective in an acute episode of esophageal spasm. Long-acting nitroglycerin and calcium channel blockers are also used to treat esophageal spasms.
Long-term (chronic) cases are sometimes treated with low-dose antidepressants such as trazodone or nortriptyline to reduce symptoms.
Rarely, severe cases may need dilation (widening) of the esophagus or surgery to control symptoms. However, it is not clear whether these procedures will help.
Where to find medical care for Diffuse esophageal spasm?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
A diffuse esophageal spasm may come and go (intermittent) or last for a long time (chronic). Medicine can help relieve symptoms.
The condition may not respond to treatment.
Prevention of Diffuse esophageal spasm
Avoid very hot or very cold foods if you get diffuse esophageal spasms.