Throat is on fire!

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Several weeks ago, my mother began to complain to me of a highly localized burning pain at the base of her throat, slightly below and to the right of where the Adam's apple would be on a male and roughly one-inch in diameter. The pain was such that it sent her to the hospital. They did a basic workup, concluded that it was likely her longstanding GERD, and discharged her with instructions to see her gastroenterologist when next she could.

We obeyed, but seeing as my mother is a retired RN she felt something was wrong with the initial emergency room assessment. As a professional researcher, I started looking at what I knew. Her prescription strength antacids and karafate, which is designed to coat the esophagus in order to prevent further chemical burns and soothe those which have already been inflicted, were utterly ineffective. The pain both was and still is independent of mealtimes. It's too localized to be acid reflux. Her gastroenterologist prescribed an endoscopy. Seeing as he is the part owner of an endoscopy clinic, it was to be expected, though not particularly useful.

I wish I could've been there in the pre-op, but prior obligations prevented it. He took biopsies of her stomach lining, but disregarded her throat entirely, where the actual pain was.

I should probably give some basic medical background. The patient in question underwent extensive treatment for breast cancer in 2010 and has been in complete remission for the past 16 months. She has a history of immune and inflammatory disorders. Her chemotherapy treatments seem to have exacerbated these underlying immune tendencies and she now suffers daily from neuropathy in her hands and feet as well as significant pain in all the major joints. This is in addition to debilitating fatigue, necessitating I care for her. Gerd and an as yet undefined gastrointestinal disorder of the past fifteen years have also disabled her.

With her history of immune problems, it seemed logical that the pain in her throat originated from an immune response, possibly to something environmental. She is heavily allergic to our outdoor environment and had begun taking injections for it shortly before the pain manifested. And though the gastroenterologist disregarded this because he's a stuffed shirt and saw no redness at the site of the pain, it is my understanding that eosinophilic esophagitis fits the diagnostic criteria perfectly. No elevated temperature, chills, sweats, or other metabolic changes are present to indicate that this is a disease process, so fungal, bacterial, and viral infections have been ruled out.

We have made an appointment to see a specialist in internal medicine, who will hopefully prescribe a series of tests to determine what she's being exposed to that is the culprit. Several issues have arisen that I could use some advice with.

1. I have no personal experience with eosinophilic esophagitis. If anyone has it and can describe the sensation, the process by which it was diagnosed, and how it was treated, I would be grateful.

2. Does anyone know if allergy-treating injections can be formulated in such a way as to exacerbate underlying allergies? I can't help but suspect the injections were to blame for the start of this, but now that she's stopped them, the pain is still continuing.

3. Today she brought to my attention the fact that, when doing some light housework, she accidentally inhaled a spritz from an aerosol can. It immediately doubled the pain in her throat. But, were the problem esophageal, it does not seem likely that this would have occurred. On the off chance that this is not eosonophilic esophagitis, what disorders of the trachea are there that could cause these same symptoms? I'm coming up with nothing on my searches.

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    John why not try a few basics whilst your mum waits. Coconut oil is really soothing after a gargle with baking soda.
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    • Posted

      This post is over a year old. We've since discovered the problem was due to an advanced esophageal malignancy. 
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    • Posted

      Hi John

      So sorry to hear about your mum but thanks for keeping us all in the loop as it does give a reality check on self diagnosis and the dangers. Has she improved after surgery? My dear old dad died of the same thing so I can identify with you.

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