Pain when swallowing for several months

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hi all,

Wanted to get some feedback here. For about the last two to 3 months I've had a burning type pain on the right side of my chest when I swallow liquid or solid food. I've been on a high dosage (80 mg/day) of omeprazole for the last month, and the pain has not resolved. Seems as if for a few days the pain will subside and go away, but it almost always comes back.

I'm in a near panic thinking this could be esophageal cancer. I'm 31 years old and had an endoscopy about a year ago that only showed acid reflux. Could esophageal cancer have grown thus quickly as to show symptoms? What else would cause a burning feeling when swallowing for months even under heavy acid suppression for 4 weeks? I'm going to order some additional imaging studies like a barium swallow but I'm at my wits end. Any help here would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Eric

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi i get the burning in throat and chest and I'm on PP I medication as well it goes away sometimes then comes back with a vengeance I'm fed up with it

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    • Posted

      Is yours specifically when swallowing, or is it just kind of all the time? My pain is specifically when I swallow, burp or hiccup. Makes me worried that there's something sinister there that isn't reflux. Could be wrong though.

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    • Posted

      sometimes it can be just when IM eating or drinking and other timed its there 24/7 i think its inflamed from acid , i would get it checked out again if your worried

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    • Posted

      Hi !!...Gillian...so sorry that you.are having pain when you swallow...i know what a worry this will.cause you...i.have had reflux for over 40 yrs....and also.an hiatus hernia....and know the issues that it causes....which are very unpleasant...to.deal.with ...and add stress ,and anxiety ..to.the mix....which adds even more suffering....please go see your Dr...and get it checked out....sometimes with reflux of acid...small. ulcers can form...very painful..when swallowing......if its painful....and upsetting you...then you need to.get it checked.....always the best thing to.do...other wise you.will.just worry....which will.not help you feel.better.....if its causing you.worry....always best to get checked out....i feel sure your Dr...could not disagree with that..reflux is a very nasty..troublesome thing...causes quite a few problems...and can be hard to live with at times....if you have concerns...always act on them...and get it checked...you are not been a pest..always best to.check out if you are in pain...and worried....i know how distressing..and living with the problem can be...please take care, of yourself....do.hope you feel better soon...Shirley.

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  • Posted

    Hallo Eric...i do.have some idea..what you are going through...and also the anxiety it can cause...i have suffered from reflux disease..for many years.....and it has caused me so.many symtoms...and problems...has it causes.. So many symptoms...some which are quite frightening..and a complete disruption to daily life...and yes!! Can feel so.bad......you.do.go down the path of thinking it could be something much worse....been there myself more than once.....acid is very powerful stuff....and when it enters the wrong place....cause havoc!!.. .which when triggered..can cause quite a lot of most unpleasant symptoms... some quite frightening.....i can go.a while..with little problem..watching my diet....drinking lots if water....even then....it will raise its ugly head.....i have the problem.... Which came has a sudden flair up.....and it has thrown every thing at me....terrible heart burn...sore stomach....burning throat....and mouth.....and a cough...my Dr gave me stronger medication....and after weeks....is now just kicking in!!...and not has painful......it comes...and goes....and this seems to.be the nature of the beast....i also take...Gaviscon Advance

    ...3 times a day....when its bad and it does help....but has yet not on prescription..... Make sure you sleep propped up.on.pillows...not flat....makes it worse ....drink.lots of water.....to.dilute the acid....keep some by your bed......when its bad .take light food...chicken soup....no red meat...chicken and fish...are better...if you can....rest when its bad......helps your stomach to.settle down......but if you are worried....go.back.to.your Dr....and ask if he can send you for another investigation....a change of medication often helps......because when it flairs up....often your meds..dont kick.in properly....if you.go.to.Holland and Barrett....and get a pkt...of slippery Elm.food.....its very good for acid related probs..make it into a drink.....sooths the gut....and stops the burning...i always keep some in.....do.hope you will.get relief soon...some times it goes on a while.....then stops..... Hope you get relief soon.......Shirley

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  • Posted

    Hey there, Eric 😃

    First of all, I know what you are going through. At 35, when i first started exhibiting symptoms of GERD, I immediately let my mind run wild and thought I had throat or esophageal cancer. When I saw my Gastroenterologist, I asked him directly if he thought I could have cancer and he said EVERYONE asks him that because we also assume and fear the worst. He told me I was not exhibiting any of the symptoms that suggest some kind of malignancy, such as coughing up blood, having black stool, or literally being unable to swallow food because of a blockage. You did not list any such symptoms. Furthermore, all those symptom most often attributable to more common conditions related to reflux. Sure enough, when he conducted my endoscopy, his prediction was correct in that there was nothing serious wrong despite the fact that I was having the following terrible symptoms:

    **

    Chronic cough, chronic throat clearing, voice hoarseness, pain in my chest, pain in my back, feeling of swelling and inflammation in my throat and chest etc.**

    Now in your case, you just had an endoscopy a year ago and you did not mention that your doctor found anything like Barretts Esophagus, which is the precursor to cancer in that part of the esophagus. I am not a doctor. But I have NEVER heard of or read of a case where a person showed no signs of BE or cancer and then within a year had full blown esophageal cancer. The statistics are something like this:

    10-15% of people with chronic GERD develop BE. Of those people, the number who go on to develop cancer is extremely low. One study suggested that the chance of BE progressing to cancer is as low as 0.12%-0.18%. per year. Again, I am not a doctor and I am not God. But I really see no viable way in which you would have cancer right now after a relatively unremarkable endoscopy.

    So take heart, stay off Google (except this wonderful forum!) and make an appointment with your doctor. That is the best advice, friend. It is very likely that you have an inflammation in your esophagus that is painful whenever anything touches it. I had this also at the worst point of my symptoms. Anything acidic especially, or really hot, would cause pain. And I also was on and have been on 80mg of Omeprazole a day. And if you do have some kind of esophageal inflammation due to reflux, it will take time to heal. Both my GI and ENT doctors told me that they often see patients who take months to recover.

    Hang in there man! Get an appointment to get some good treatment and way forward. And try to relax! I know it is hard. Cheers!!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the detailed response! I knew about BE but I also know that cancer which starts higher up in the esophagus often doesn't have anything to do with BE, but I guess there would be some sort of lesion before hand? Any thoughts on that?

      Very anxious about my health almost always, but this was a great response, and does give me some piece of mind. Sounds like one month of Omeprazole isn't actually that long. Just tough when the pain seems like it's going away and then doesn't.

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    • Posted

      Yes, one month of a PPI will often not be enough. My ENT actually told me that he tells his patients to expect to be only 70-80% after a few months. So it certainly can take time.

      As far as your pain, where is it located? Higher up in the esophagus near the collar bone or lower towards the stomach? Or is the pain localized above the collar bone in the "lower throat" below the larynx (adam's apple)?

      Also, do you have a history of smoking or excessive alcohol use?

      And yes, pain that does not subside after a long time is very exhausting and discouraging. Hang in there! This is not condition that is unalterable or without successful treatment options.

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    • Posted

      It's interesting because the pain is definitely mid chest ish, not near the collar bone. It's about at the level of the sternum but it actually manifests as right sided pain which is strange.

      I do have a history of smoking, but not of excessive alcohol consumption. Around the time I had my EGD I also had a thorax CT to check in on a pulmonary nodule that ended up being benign.

      Either of those particularly useful information? I'm also wondering if it might take both ppi and diet to help.

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    • Posted

      The fact that the pain seems to be localized, or originating, behind the sternum certainly suggests reflux irritation. There may even be some ulceration taking place due to repeated reflux. If that is the case, it could most certainly cause a stinging, burning pain whenever food or liquid touched the ulcerated area.

      Furthermore, when an esophagus is inflamed or damaged, it affects the surrounding nerves leading to referred pain. My GI doctor said that the sharp pains I was feeling in my back and neck and pectoral muscles were all related to the inflammation of my esophagus. This sounds very similar indeed.

      And yes, diet/lifestyle is a huge variable along with PPI's. You have no doubt read all the usual suggestions such as sleeping with the head of your bed raised 6-8 inches, not eating 2-3 hours before lying down, and not overeating (if you have a hiatal hernia) and losing weight. All those things are indeed important factors for most people who suffer from chronic reflux. Trigger foods/drinks are a factor person by person. What may trigger one person may not trigger another. So that is a trial/error process. That being said, if you are suffering from a severely inflamed or ulcerated esophagus, swallowing anything will be uncomfortable. The general rule of thumb, however, is that the more acidic foods/drinks will irritate the condition further .... at least until it is fully healed.

      Cheers!

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  • Posted

    Quick update here - I have a Barium Swallow scheduled for Monday morning. I'm incredibly anxious and I'm positive in my mind that they are going to find cancer, but at least we will know soon. I'll make sure to keep everyone updated.

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