Diffuse esophageal spasm (patient information)

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Diffuse esophageal spasm

Overview

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

When to seek urgent medical care?

Diagnosis

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Diffuse esophageal spasm?

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

Prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

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.

Diagnosis

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.

Treatment options

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?

Directions to Hospitals Treating 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.

Possible complications

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.

Sources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000289.htm


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