oesophageal spasms and breathlessness

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bit of background

I suffer GORD, was severe but about 8 years ago had a nissan fundiloplication (sic) which cured my major heartburn, only now get the odd breakthrough. I do have slight scarring in the oesopaghagus which does cause foods to feel lodged occaisionally, so i have to drink with foods to 'get the food down'.

A year ago, I developed chest pain and got 999'd to hospital... non cardiac. Have since had 2 more trips to hospital with chest pain and severeal gp visits. Told poss spasms and have been started on Omeprazole and ranitadine. Usually the pains stop after a while, but was getting them everyday, sometimes many times a day, this last episode started a week ago, and there has been pretty much no let up. But I am breathless with it. Its like my lungs are not expanding, or the breath sticks, around the same place that food does. Im currently signed off work sick, I literally cant get my breath when talking, a main part of my job. Is this a normal symptom?

I have to see a gastro specialist in April for another issue, and have been told by my gp to tell them about this as well...

Oh im a 38year old female in the UK

0 likes, 16 replies


16 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi,i also suffer from breathlessness.There was actually one time when I felt like I'm having   a heart attack that I needed to go to ER.The doctor who attended to me was really very good cause by simply looking at me he knows that it's a worst form of heartburn and  introduced me to Omeprazole,.that was was 5 years ago.but then he told me I needed to have an ECG which had normal results.This is how stress ruin our daily life.It would be wise to speak with  your GP again.We can't play guessing games on what our bodies are telling us.I might say I felt the same but each one of us might have underlying symptoms you simply can't ignore.I got so terrified couple of nights ago , as I woke up in the middle of the night, I thought I was having a nightmare, the kind that you see in the horror movie,I thought I couldn't breathe  or is it just my imagination.I felt like I'm getting suffocated.But it's something in between shortness of breath or suffocation.I sometimes think that the acid has already gotten itself in my entire body. I get to sleep comfortably when my head is slightly elevated.I have shortness of breath episodes as well.Hope this helps even a little bit.
    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply. I dont even get heartburn often now just that perm stuck food feeling. Since my surgery i am unable to vomit well or burp. I literally have to put my fingers down my throat to bring wind up. Im asthmatic so i know what breathlessness is. Thisbia a weird type of breathlessness where i dont feel like i can get enough breathe in. Have to see my gp again tomorrow
    • Posted

      It sounds like the nerves are creating a spasm, doesn't it, but it will need a proper investigation with a barium swallow.   I wonder what triggers it off?   If it is food getting stuck and creating additional weight and pressure because it cannot pass through the lower oesophageal sphincter into the stomach, I have heard of one chap who stood up on the balls of his feet and then dropped on to his heels to try and jerk the stuck food through to try and resolve things.   Some people have buscopan, an anti-spasm medication.   Others find cold water (or cold ice cream) can soothe things;  but equally others find warm water (or bananas) better.
    • Posted

      Thanks. I'm not sure what starts it off or improves it, so I am going to start a diary and log my symtems, see if I can find a pattern. I have been bacfk to DR today, and he said allthough the pain is due to spasms, he's more inclined that the breathlessness is more anxiety. I do have Borderline Personallity Disorder and have been off all my medication for the last 3 months, and the breathlessness has only started in the last month, so I sort of agree it could be. I do get anxious and panicky, but never these sort of symtoms, I am awaiting a call back from my Psyciatrist to see if I can have some diazapam or something to calm me down until I restart my medication.
    • Posted

      You are quite right tht anxiety and tension will not help, but combatting that is easier said than done.   It is often the nerve endings that control the muscles in the oesophagus that cause the problem, so nerve-type issues can be quite relevant.   You could try something like deep breathing / relaxation exercises or soemthing that suits yo in that dorection to see if that helps perhaps?


    • Posted

      I do mindfullness when I can, and have various methods of coping I have been learnt for when i am panicking, just never had this kind of breathlesssness before, which is strange. The chest pain I can deal with on a day to day basis, but I need to be able to speak clearly for my job, and I cant at the moment.
    • Posted

      If it feels like a different sort of beathlessness, then it may indeed be from a different reason from before, as you say.
  • Posted

    Hi, I have had this very same thing. (I have had achalasia for 30 years) I was in ER twice in a full blown panic attack.  Never did find anything definite-maybe stress, maybe meds I was on, maybe allergies.  I was on all kinds of meds for anxiety.  They also thought I had a hiatal hernia but found my esophagus is dilated...It amazes me how stress and anxiety have a HUGE effect on the achalasia.  Xanax has helped also with spasms and anxiety.  Sometimes I get so afraid when the spasms start that I cause more problems for myself.  
    • Posted

      Please let us know how this turns out...This air hunger, dyspnea (I think) is a very scarey feeling.  I am always afraid it will come back.  Are you on any meds for chronic pain (arthritis, back pain) ?
  • Posted


    I had a heller myotomy surgery for achalasia with dor fundoplication and I am now having problems again. They have thought that it is possibly that when they preformed the fundoplacation, that they wrapped it too tight, causing my achalasia to show up again. I think that they may have wrapped your fundoplacation tight enough to cause a narrowing. I have been on omeprazole for almost 1 year and a half and I find that it helps.

  • Posted

    Hi Trayj99 and All,

    I am a naive American who has been suffering from achalasia my entire life on a small level. Only recently when I began to experience the anxiety attacks and sphincter closing up completely, did I go to the Hospital ER.

    I have been diagnosed with achalasia and also have a duodenial ulcer and having good success with medication.

    I weigh 6 stones and unable to do anymore testing until I get more weight back on me.

    I tend to have really good success on days that I am able to get MILK past my sphincter.

    Stress is also a major player and has been present at all achalasia attacks in past and present.

    Exercise believe it or not also tends to help with the attacks in moderation, but if I over exercise it is worse the breathing becomes harder too.

    I tend to keep my talking down to 5-10 minutes max when talking with people...and I cannot argue with anyone.I just say your right..and move on.

    I recommend light exercise after your meals to help digest and avoid all confrontations or stress items. Very light I also get those heart fipilations at first.

    I ice my chest and make homemade slurpees to reduce the swelling at sphincter before bedtime.Dehydration is also a major problem for me at nights. I usually stay up from 12am to 3 am hydrating.

    I also like hot tea and soups etc in daytime for meals.

    The other big factor helping me is the Tramadol and nausea medicine I take with my anti-acid pills 30 minutes before a meal.

    It seems to relax the sphincter for me sometimes.

    There of course is no guaranteed solution..I have to try different things everyday.

    But I have enough tricks now to actually keep me alive for now without surgery.

    I also use a therapy cat who massages my sphincter and sits on my chest to alleviate the pain.

    But I also must admit I am not totally in the clear..I still throw up in my lungs and come back to life. I have died and come back to life 8 times in past 1-1/2 years.

    I do sleep sitting upward positions but sometimes I don't even know I am dying...I just wake up covered in stuff and spend 6-8 hours trying to get the liquids and food out of my lungs while suffering from pneumonia chills,aches, and fever.

    So, I might be doing surgery in future but right now using "ignorance is bliss" to my advantage.

    This is the cruelest disease I have ever heard of F.Y.I.


    • Posted

      I agree it is a cruel desease. Why are you putting off the surgery? Is it the weight issue? I've had this for nearly 30 years and had the Hellers Myotomy When I was 21(24 years ago) It did help so much. Not perfect but I can eat and drink most things. My biggest issue is esophageal spasm that causes non cardiac chest pain that is a 10 on pain scale. Sometimes I end up in ER needing help.

      You are SO right about stress and not arguing. That will cause me so many problems.

      Anyways, I hope you can get some weight on and continue with treatment. There are some great doctors and hospitals in US. I went to Temple University.

    • Posted

      Thank You so much for the kind words kristin31632 and encouragement!!

      I have always known something was killing me as a child...I ignored it until I 47 yrs old and down to 107 lbs. and dying from dehydration and starvation 3 weeks ago.

      As a child I spent many years living in Houston hospital and they were thinking it was Luekemia. At 7 I never wanted to see a doctor again and never went back until 3 weeks ago.

      Yes, I am scared to death now this is real and they are talking about Heller surgery.

      None of the operations seem to work very well..I read comments..YES..been there..done that..did not work etc...

      I want to wait until I get back up over 100 lbs..maybe 110 lbs before I let them do anymore test or surgery.

      I am at Parkland in Dallas and very happy with both the hospital and doctors and wish I had gone earlier and not waited till last minute.

      I do NOT want to be addicted to morpheine or pain pills..but they are the only thing that seem to help with the cardiac spazms you spoke of.

      Exercise helps too in moderation,but too much exercise is bad too.

      I have relearned how to walk using no muscle energy thanks to my Chi knowledge and breathing techniques. That keeps the swelling from occuring in sphincter area.

      I also have gone back to using medical marijuana and put the butter in everything I can like eggs..soup..krispies etc.

      This seems to be helping me also....mainly with appetite and nasuea.

      I am going to stick to medicine as long as I can before making that step.

      It takes about 7 days for me to recover from test and worried I am too small to survive a surgery.

      I can lose almost 1 lb a day or I can gain 2-3 lbs on a good day.

      Just talking about the issue also causes the anxiety attacks..I was doing better when I thought it was just an ulcer and kept on moving..so I have isolated the dicscussions with doctors etc...I make them talk to my mother and my sister is a nurse and they make my decisions.

      I just want more weight and whatever they tell me to do..I will do.

      I hope I have as great of a success as you did...when it happens.

      I do dream about eating food again.

      Getting Drunk....running I think is over for me...I break bones too easily and pass out a lot.

      I keep my exercise to just walking for now and pushing for Parkland to build a foam protected exercise room for patients with achalasia.

      Sorry I am such a whimp and afraid of surgery...women are much braver than men.

      We always wait till last minute.


    • Posted

      Hi Sean, Did you say you have a therapy kitty? I have read a cat's purr is healing. I have dogs and they help me a lot. When I get down, they make me want to be better...

      Do they do the Hellers laproscopically now? When I had it done, it was very invasive and it took a long time to heal. So if your team does it that way, you are right to want to have some weight on and to be ready.

      I appreciate that I can eat most foods, but we will never be normal. Carrots and rice I have to be careful with.

      And those darn spasms. for some reason my drs don't want to prescribe pain meds. They give me levsin and an anti nausea.these help except sometimes they do not help and off to er go. And when I go to er and tell them I KNOW what is wrong, they think I don't. so they run tests on my heart, do a cat scan...

      And of course most look at you funny when you say achalasia. It must be so rare that they are not familiar with it at all.

      so it is stressful talking go drs and nurses. They do not understand there are different pains and issues.

    • Posted

      Yes Kristin..I have another therapy cat trained.

      I talk about ignorance is bliss..because I have a confession...I was able to get all the way up to 220 lbs 10 years ago...now and then I had difficulty swallowing and knew something was coming...so I got as fat as I could. I sometimes wonder who has it best..you for being diagnosed so young..or me for living older and a life free of the chains..I knew I was dying and lived the fullest life ever..I can easily write a book on my life..lots of blessings from God.

      At the time I had a therapy cat that massaged and the purring helps too.

      After she passed..I went into 4 years of losing my weight down to 125 lbs. Then 3 weeks ago I went down to 107 lbs..and now 96 lbs. after hospital.

      At each event..I had MAJOR STRESS...even at 18 years old..I had my first achalasia attack unknowingly and learned to not eat out ..only homecook.

      The pain medicine takes a lot of finesse to get....they don't want you addicted..I understand...and if you demand it..then your an addict.

      The best approach is to explain to your doctor it is as necessary for you as air...food..and water are to them.

      They cannot say they are NOT addicts to those items nor say they can live without...our condition requires us to have pain medicine when we get the anxiety attacks or spasms as you call them.

      Would the doctor prefer you die from a heart attack...or be addicted to pain pills.

      The pain we feel is VERY REAL...the sphincter sits above the heart and all I have to do if I want to die..is go for a 5 mile jog.

      The other pains are also very real. Just not as serious as a heart attack.

      I do NOT know how good your heart is...so be extra careful with exercise. I have best heart available..so I use exercise and pain pills to fight pain and loosen sphincter up to relax.

      Last night I doubled down on the pain and nausea medicine..then spent 2 hours eating anything and everything..last I tried my chocolate pudding trick and milk  and it worked....the sphincter was completely open..I was in Heaven.

      But stomach is really small..and not digesting food.

      I think this is because of the anti-acid medicine and may ask permission to stop if my ulcer is gone...right now the acid medicine makes my sphincter hurt. And when I stop the acid medicine ,hoping stomach digest food again.But also know it helps keep me from aspirating.

      Which know one else seems to have had happen..cannot explain what it is like to die and come back to life.

      I agree..normal people have never heard of achalasia or know of anyone who needs a shot of morphein to eat or drink when in hospital.

      I do NOT want to be addict either..I will slowly reduce the pain medicine and slowly increase exercise is my goal..

      I also decided last night..that if anyone can beat this..it will be me.

      Here is my first attempt to start an American Achalasia support group that we can e-mail and share information directly.

      Thanks for heads up on surgery healing process...that would have surpised me...

       Emis Moderator comment: I have removed the email address as we do not publish these in the forums. If users wish to exchange contact details please use the Private Message service.


    • Posted

      Sean maybe I am a wimp and avoid pain. Try to find a way out. I get so tired of fighting pain. I try to exercise but it's a struggle. I have asthma. I have arthritis. I have palindromic arthritis. But you are right, staying as active as you can helps. I remember being told after my surgery the day would come when I'd have to walk after eating and sleep upright. My bed is elevated...I do choke some nights. Very scarey. But I have never passed out. It almost happened once when i ate celery and wheat thins and it got stuck and I couldn't breath. Just as I got to er, I threw it up.

      I used to run and do p90x and insanity and lift weights...now I do as much as I can but I struggle due to arthritis.

      Well some of us just get a bad deal.

      Hey send a private message if you want to try a support group in US. I think our drs here are really lacking and there is no support . I am glad I found this forum because it makes me feel NOT ALONE in this battle.


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