Possible Dysphagia and acid reflux

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Hello,

I need suggestions and help. I am 28 years old and started having the symptoms a week ago, after my birthday. First, I had short breathness and difficulty to eat. I felt a lump in my throat and was unable to sleep properly cause I was afraid to not breath again. I went to emergency two days in a row and the doctors did not find anything. First emergency night they diagnosed me with Panic Attacks. Second day they found high level of blood and did a CT scan, EKG and blood test to determine if I did not have blood clots. The doctor suggested me to do an ultrasound of the thyroid or go to the GI doctor. I am going tomorrow without insurance and appointent because I am desperate. I have not eaten well. I have lose weight and gone from 155lbs to 147lbs. I had to choking episodes when I thought I was gonna die. I couldn't breathe for 20 seconds and was trying to grasp air. It was so scary! I think I have dysphagia as I have read the symptoms online and have them all. I self medicated myself with Ranitidine to eliminate the acid reflux and it went slightly away. Everytime I try to swallow a small piece of food the buro come back. What can I do? Is there a possibility my oesophageus is damaged?

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    It is possible for prolonged reflux to damage your oesophagus. I think you probably need an endoscopy and perhaps a barium swallow test to diagnose what may be wrong. Meanwhile I suggest you also take Gaviscon Advance when needed. Your pharmacist will explain that it is an alginate that creates a protective raft for a few hours.
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  • Posted

    First I would say try some Valium and try to calm down a little. You're not helping your condition, whatever it may be. If you think it has something to do with your esophagus why didn't they do any tests st the hospital? There are multiple tests you will need to undergo if it is for instance Achalasia. Bravo ph test, Barium swallow study plus more. These tests are not cheap so be prepared Hood luck and let us know how you make out.

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  • Posted

    By listening to your symptoms, you may very well have narrowing of the esophagus or perhaps a stricture if you feel that food gets stuck and want go down. But, you stated you can feel this all the way up until you go to bed. That doesn't sound like a classic symptom of dysphagia. Usually with it, and when a piece of food gets lodged, it only lasts seconds to minuets before it finally goes down. And, it or your LES wouldn't have anything to do with feeling short of breath or the feeling that you're going to die because you can't breathe. Unless you actually aspirate a piece of food or fluids, the symptoms you're experiencing just don't coincide with Alchalasia or stricture. Your esophagus runs behind the windpipe (trachea) and are anatomically designed so that one doesn't have anything to do with the other. The aspiration of food and fluids is a horrific occurrence. One actually gets choked and cannot breathe until the airway is clear. With Alchalasia this is usually nocturnal. So, I see no correlation between the two in your case. You might very well have something causing food to get stuck. If they did a CT scan they would have been able to ascertain whether or not there was anything pressing against your esophagus. I.e. thyroid, growth, etc.

    I would follow up with a good Internal Medicine Dr. to have preliminary tests done such as a Barium speech and a regular Barium swallow test done then see a good GI Dr. Depending on your test results and symptoms you present with, he/she may indeed want to do a manometry test on you. Again, I personally don't think this is related to Alchalasia or your LES being comprised. Your symptoms of not being able to breath and a feeling of doom sounds more like a panic disorder more than it does esophageal anomalies. If anything, you may be looking at having an esophageal dilatation to correct the problems you are having. Good Luck my friend. Let us know how you do. I'd be curious to know what they say.

    Btw, I seriously doubt that your LES is damaged.

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    • Posted

      Oh, and also read up on panic attacks and generalized anxiety. I think you will find the information very helpful. And, ONLY if your Dr. has prescribed any benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Clonopin or Valium, you might want to take one. Try to relax.

      DJRN

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  • Posted

    So sorry that your symptoms are causing you to feel so desperate.  Anxiety disorders can mimic the symptoms of just about any physiological condition--where none actually exists.  Young women like you [and myself once upon a time] seem to be particularly vulnerable to such episodes.  It can be our brain telling us, via physical symptoms, that there is some aspect of our lives that is troubling us and that we need to address it--even though we are afraid to. I am not saying that the possibility of there being a physical cause for your symptoms does not exist but, from your description of what has occurred, I doubt whether it can be an emergency.  Try to stay calm and do not think or believe the worst until the thyroid test has been completed.  Trust, if you can, in your own youth and strength and the competency of those doctors who are trying to get to the bottom of what's troubling you.  But, while the thyroid is often suspected, that doesn't mean it's the culprit.  As for the lump in the throat, here is something to read about:

    https://patient.info/health/globus-sensation-leaflet

     

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    • Posted

      This was such a nice, accurate and thought out response by you. I too know all too well about anxiety and panic disorder. And you are right. It can mimic almost any physiological health issue. She's right. You may not realize it right now but something is troubling you more than you may know. You have to slowly work through the problem(S) and focus. But, that's not to say that you still don't have an issue going on that's related to your stomach and esophagus. Especially with the acid reflux. But I can tell you that stress and anxiety can cause acid reflux. It can cause numerous things. Way too many to name. See your Dr. and suggest a barium swallow if he doesn't. Good luck. I think you got some helpful info.

      DJRN

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    • Posted

      And, BTW, remember that it's only been a week since your symptoms began.  The weight loss is nothing to be alarmed about at this point.  It is possible for a young person to lose eight pounds fast when not eating properly.  One of my daughters, years ago, lost nine pounds while having the stomach flu for a couple of days, vomiting and not eating.

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    • Posted

      Quite a lot of people with achalasia do find it helpful to try some form of relaxation technique.   Being unable to swallow properly does in itself cause some tension and anxiety, especially around food, so it is not surprising that tension makes things worse.   I think the progressive lack of food intake can lead to loss of some nutrition and fatigue for some people as well, so anything you can do to break that cycle becomes worthwhile.
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    • Posted

      All true, of course, but achalasia is, thankfully, a rare disorder.  Unfortunately, anxiety is not.  One of the most common symptoms of panic disorder is a feeling of the "throat closing up".  [Strangely, anxiety attacks can even cause the lymph nodes to swell.] Suddenly, one can neither breathe nor swallow normally--or so it seems. Judging from her post here and in another thread, the OP does seem to be troubled by some type of reflux.  That may have triggered her swallowing difficulties or be a troublesome part of what is happening with her now. In another thread, she said some medicine she took helped this reflux and also her breathing. She may even have developed an ulcer.  That can manifest itself in a sensation like an active, fire-burning volcano has settled in ones chest. Frothy stuff bubbles up and sometimes causes one to cough and choke.  It's probably acid mixed with saliva.  I'm not really sure, but the acidity of it no doubt assisted in etching that feeling in my memory! Long may it stay away. Anyway,  one may have a combination of physiological and psychologically induced symptoms, creating a miserable situation.  I would say to this poster, who has already been diagnosed with panic disorder once, to try to entertain the possibility that this conclusion is correct.  But one never does want to believe it when young--as I know.  Meanwhile, if she feels she needs to be seen in a hurry again, I would suggest, if in the US, to go to Urgent Care instead of the ER.  She doesn't have insurance and to assume the debt of visits to the ER will probably make her unhappy for a long time.  An ER visit can cost from 3,000 to 5,000 dollars.  It's rather ridiculous, but that's the way it is.  So, poster, you may have dysphagia [which is not a disease but a symptom] or even achalasia or a common ulcer--but a run to the ER is probably not going to discover those things because they don't give you the tests for them there--not that an ulcer requires a specific test.  The ER staff is there to make sure you are not in immediate danger, [and to try to save your life if you are] although the blood profiles they routinely run [or the x-rays they take] can certainly reveal some problem that needs addressing.   The fact that the OP said all this started around her birthday may not be insignificant, either.  Birthdays are milestones in life and can evoke strange emotions, especially if one does not find oneself in a happy state at that time. 

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    • Posted

      I believe you read that poster well. Some people simply don't know what anxiety and panic attacks can cause and how they make you feel. I battled them in younger years during college and went to the ER because I thought I was dying. It can be that bad. The ER is indeed costly and one should go to an urgent care facility to cut the cost of a 5,000 to $8,000 dollar trip to the ER. Especially if a CT scan and other costly tests are performed. It wouldn't be unheard of to run up a $15,000 dollar bill. I worked as a triage nurse for a while and I saw people with panic and anxiety problems to even cloud my judgement and make them higher priority especially if One's heart or lungs are altered. After a while you get pretty good at being able to differentiate a heart attack from a panic attack. But, you can't always count on your instincts. Those are two bodily systems that one doesn't ignore. A patient can go bad on you within seconds if you're not careful. Sometimes it's literally impossible to know if one is truly having heart problems until we get them hooked up to the monitor and do a 12 lead EKG on them. If that comes back normal you can lower your guard somewhat and know the patient is out of eminent danger.

      DJRN

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  • Posted

    I don't think anyone is suggesting that all of this is psychologically related. You do indeed have a history of acid reflux which might fall under the diagnosis of GERD. Hopefully you are taking an OTC protein pump inhibitor such as Prilosec or Pepsid. I would followup with your PCP and see if he'll order a barium swallow for you. Don't let all of this get to you and try not to read more into it until you see your Dr. All we can do is summise and support you. What makes me feel this is more related to anxiety and panic are your symptoms with your breathing. Where you feel like you can't get your breath. It might be that you hyperventilate and it scares you. I hope you do well.

    DJRN

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    • Posted

      Hey DJ I think you're right , I mean I have Emphysema and Achalasia type 3. And I get chest pains where I think my chest will explode but I'm 7 years it has never caused my breathing to stop. That's exactly why I told him to try a Valium to calm down a little and see what happens. Just trying to help .

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    • Posted

      I think that was a good response. Anxiety and panic attacks can be horrible. I just didn't feel that he was suffering or experiencing that of Alchalasia. The acid reflux is a concern. But again, that can be from a variety of things. It doesn't sound as though his LES is compromised.

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