Chest pains, difficulty swallowing - do I have Achalasia?

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I am a 19 year old male who has been experiencing the following symptoms:

-A sensation of pressure in my sternum. I experience this sensation pretty much every day. It seems to occur more often after eating. 

-Sharp, momentary chest pains. The first time I got one of these severe pains, I was convinced that it was a heart attack, and went into a mad panic. I was on the verge of calling an ambulance. 

-Some difficulty swallowing, uncomfortable swallowing and slow eating. 

-A feeling that food is stuck around my breastbone

-Shortness of breath, causing extreme panic. Again, I think this usually occurs shortly after eating.

-Mild heartburn and a cold sensation in my throat

-Frequent burping 

Pretty much all of these symptoms have been present for at least a few months.

Also, I have had some unintentional weight loss - my BMI is down to 17.9

I have been to the doctor three times in the last 6 months. One doctor suspected that I had acid reflux, and prescribed me Omeprazole (Gastro-resistant pills); these didn't help much. Another thought that I might have anxiety disorder, but I feel as though there is an underlying physical health problem. I have had 2 ECGs and various blood tests; I got normal results for all of these. Also, one doctor said that my lungs seem to be functioning well.

These symptoms are impairing my life and have caused me to become preoccupied with my health at times. I have been generally quite unhappy recently. 

After looking online, I think that Achalasia seems to fit my symptoms very well. Do you think I am correct to suspect Achalasia? Is it worth suggesting this to a doctor in the hope that they will refer me to a specialist for futher investigation? 


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4 Replies

  • Posted

    You need to have a Motility test done, this test will 100% determine whether you have Achalasia or not.  In this test, a catheter filled with sensors, is put down the nose into the stomach.  The sensors will measure the 'waves,' movement [ie contractions/relaxation] of the esophagus.  Ten times a bit of water will be syringed into your mouth, and you will be told 'when' to swallow.  This measures the movement [or no movement, as in my case] of the esophagus.  Alan, who is part of this wonderful Forum group, will likely respond with more information.  Push to have the test done; then you will know whether you have Achalasia or not.  I pray that you do NOT have this.

  • Posted

    My achalasia was identified by the radiologist during a barium swallow test. He was pretty much 100 percent sure, but of course they then follow up with the manometry. Also my primary care doctor was able to order the barium swallow. I didn't have to see a specialist to get that test. Now of course i have a gastro doctor and he is helping me navigate my next steps.

    I am sorry you are having so much trouble swallowing. My swallowing trouble started when i was 25 with difficulty swallowing about once a week. Now i am 29 and it's every meal, every sip of water, every day. rolleyes When i had the endoscopy done 4 years ago they didn't find anything. I sort of wish i would have kept pursing my doctor but instead i just stopped going. They told me it was GERD and so i played around with my diet over the past few years. All the while swallowing kept getting worse. And now here i am with a different doctor finally diagnosed 4 years later.

    I have a surgical consult in December. I am very hopeful. I have found reading others testimonials helped a lot. Also...once they diagnosed me i felt this sense of relief. No more guessing or having people look at me like i am crazy. So i hope they can diagnose you soon. Be an advocate for yourself. Ask your doctor for these tests!

  • Posted

    I think you are certainly relating enough symptoms for the issue of achalasia to be investigated.   They should give you an endoscopy (miniature camera down your throat) and a barium swallow test.   Food being stuck around the breast bone is something that the endoscopy would investigate, in case there is some kind of physical obstruction.

    ?You ay find 'A Patient's Guide to Achalasia' helpful.   You can download it from the website of the Oesophageal Patients Association under The Oesophagus, and Achalasia.   It is an unusual condition and a typical GP may well not have met a similar case before.

    ?The third test is manometry, that measures the pressure at various points down your oesophagus, and helps identify precusely where the problems are occurring.


  • Posted

    Go to see a specialist. Push for more testing. My Dr told me what I said just couldn't be true. (I don't see her anymore) my symptoms got worse and worse and now I've had the testing and surgery to help it. They blame EVERYTHING on gastric reflux and even after a EGD said gluten intolerance- just another blanket diagnosis. I go to Mayo clinic and see a real specialist there, who listened and did the proper testing. I didn't have reflux or gluten intolerance. They say that to pacify you. Be your own advocate and push for answers.


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