Esophageal spasms or Esophageal sensitivity??

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New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/25/2009 4:11 PM (GMT -6)   
I have chest pain all the time. It gets worse with food but really there is no time that I don't have it.
Cardiologist ruled out heart related problems.
I had upper endoscopy and barium swallow test. Both of them were normal.
My PCP wants me to go for acid/saline perfusion (bernstein) test.
Is it possible to have an esophagus that is hyper sensitive to food (especially to salt and other acidic food) but don't have spasms? I am saying no spasms because my barium test was negative.
Put in different words, can a person have negative barium swallow test but positive acid perfusion test?
I don't think I have acid reflux because those meds never eased the pain.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 6/28/2009 11:48 AM (GMT -6)   
Medications do not help me either. I have throat and esophagus spasm especially when I eat. I have not done any tests yet. However, I do have acid in my throat.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 41
   Posted 6/29/2009 10:19 AM (GMT -6)   

I have some what of a similar thing going on.  Everyday, even when I don't eat food, I have a feeling (discomfort) in my stomach and esophagus.  I have every test there is going (endo, colonoscopy, ct scan, manometry) everything came back ok.  I was also on Nexium for many months with no relief.  What I have been told is I have a functional problem (functional dyspepsia).  Basically, nothing can be done about it...just live with this is bascially what I do.

Hope this helps.




Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/29/2009 10:27 AM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to HealingWell.  I am glad you found us and that you have already met some of our wonderful members.
I am sure others will be along to advise you well.
Again a warm welcome.


Moderator: Osteoarthritis & GERD/Heartburn
Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
*~* *~*
"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
Not a mental health professional of any kind

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 4961
   Posted 7/1/2009 7:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Kirkland -
I am not sure what an acid/saline perfusion test is. I know that a barium swallow won't always show a problem. I have had about 8 or 9 in the last 10 months or so and only a couple times could they see what was truly happening. I was having issues with the first Nissen and food and drinks would get stuck. I believe it wasn't until the 3rd one they actually saw what was happening.
I believe you could have a hyper sensitive esophagus. The meds don't always work for everyone either. Prilosec never worked for me and Prevecid stopped working after about a year. There is also the possibility that it isn't acid, but bile in your esophagus. I have heard that bile feels like acid but doesn't respond to PPIs and such.

Take care,

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/11/2009 12:25 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all,
Thank you very much for your responses.
what is about this hypersensitive esophagus? I went to see GI doc and he also mentioned about it. But he said there may or may not be a solution for it. Not an exciting thing to know.
He said that it can't be bile reflux because nothing was found in my endoscopy. Is upper endoscopy a reliable test for bile reflux?
stkitt, thank you for the warm welcome. This is a wonderful forum.
Sorry to hear about your symptoms. I am going to have manometry and 24 hr PH monitoring. I was told that if they turn negative, I would be considered as having a sensitive esophagus. I think it is a nice way of saying 'just live with your symptoms'  :-)
well, we are in it together, we will see how we can find some solution.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/11/2009 9:11 AM (GMT -6)   
I am glad to see you getting good response from our members.  You are right, this  is a great forum with so much good information from the members who have been through the procedures.
Stick with us and we will support you through your situation.
Health and happiness,

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7188
   Posted 7/11/2009 9:36 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Kirkland,
I can only share my own experience. None of my tests were indicating that I had a severe GERD problem, yet while taking 40mg Protonix twice a day (and sometimes additional 300mg Zantac at night, I still needed to have Maalox and Tums always at hand (where ever I my purse, next to my bed, etc.).

My endoscopies were always normal with no evidence of inflammation or Barrett's changes--yet I suffered greatly from breakthrough heartburn, and whenever I took medications that irritated my stomach (like antibiotics), I would get a horrible "lump" mid chest, a feeling of irritation or burning. I had several stomach/esophageal inflammations that took months to resolve, and kept me from eating normally. Actually I would feel full after a very tiny amount of food. This irritation would last for months. However, from all the tests, no doctor would think I was not a candidate for GERD surgery. In fact, I had two GI docs tell me that my GERD was in the "normal" to "below normal" range.

However, my asthma and family doctors were both convinced that my uncontrolled asthma was being caused by GERD. They had pretty much thrown in the towel on my symptoms, and constantly nudged me to go forward with the Nissen Fundoplication surgery. Finally, my family doctor made me an appointment with a bariatric surgeon, who did more tests, and with the additional information provided by my family doctor, said that I was a good candidate for the surgery.

At this point I went back to my GI doc (a second one...I fired the first one for being ineffectual, and not listening to me. He always said that I couldn't be experiencing what I was describing. Hello! I was the one experiencing them. My second GI doc was much more respectful, and listened to me, at least.) He re did the 24hr PH monitor. The results were very average...the number was 14, which isn't indicative of surgery. My first PH monitor came up with a number of 4--and I was told that the GERD was not causing my asthma.

However, with he input of my other doctors, My GI doc thought the option of surgery might work in my case, and help with my horrible asthma symptoms. He even thought that I might be getting bile reflux, which could also irritate my lungs. He sent me to a highly recommended surgeon to discuss that option.

Long story short, I had the surgery, and my lungs have improved markedly. For the first time in probably 4 years (I was actually hospitalized at one point, for asthma caused by uncontrolled GERD brought on by antibiotic treatment.) I could breathe easyly, and was not coughing up tons of mucous from my lungs. My lungs are great now.

I know you're not having lung issues, but I'm telling you my story because it is an example of a GERD problem that didn't follow the "rules"--the tests all looked normal, but it was causing a life-threatening (and extremely uncomfortable) problem.

I wish you lots of luck in finding an answer to your problem.
You know best what you're feeling, and should pursue a resolution. Don't let doctors tell you that you're not experiencing what you know you're experiencing!
This forum is a great place to receive information and support.
Take care!

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/18/2009 11:42 PM (GMT -6)   
stkitt said...
I am glad to see you getting good response from our members.  You are right, this  is a great forum with so much good information from the members who have been through the procedures.
Stick with us and we will support you through your situation.
Health and happiness,
Thank you Kitt. The knowledge and the support we get from this site is invaluable. Great service indeed.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 7/19/2009 12:10 AM (GMT -6)   

Hi dencha,

Thank you very much for your wishes.

Glad to hear that you are feeling better now. It is true that sometimes doctors think it is all in the patient's head. It gets really tough in such situations. A person suffers from symptoms, tests don't reveal anything, and doctors say everything is alright. A GI doc once told me "you are perfectly healthy, just go home and relax" :-)

My present doc is nice. At least, he doesn't say that I don't need any further evaluation because my endoscopy and barium swallow were negative. 

This forum is also very helpful. I actually learn more from these discussions than from the doctor.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/5/2009 1:22 PM (GMT -6)   

Hi, I'm new to this forum. Do any of you have asthma and esophageal spasms? Had to call 911 about 2 weeks ago, due to an esophageal spasm attack that lasted about 20-30 minutes. The pain was unbearable. I have had esophageal spasms before,(have had them for the past 12 years, but were experienced only 2-3 times per year) but never to this extent. This in turn triggered my asthma. Had shortness of breath, chest pain, and exteme fatigue.

I went to a GI doctor. Will be having an endoscopy done this Friday. GI doctor dosen't understand why I'm having so much fatigue. My legs feel like they have lead in them. I walk real slow. I'm a 48 year old female that was just diagnosed with asthma back in February. Back then I had the same problems with the shortness of breath, chest pain, and extreme fatigue. That's when after a month and a half doctors finally figured out it was severe asthma, due to cardialogist, and pulmonologist results coming out negative.

Now I'm having same problems, but this time I had the esophageal spasm attack that I didn't get back in February.

Can the esophageal problems be realted to the asthma? Have any of you experienced this type of symptoms with esophageal spasms and asthma? Thanks for your support.


Uncle Leo
Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 8/5/2009 2:07 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi kirkland,

The manometry test will definitely tell if you have spasms. My barium swallow came back normal and a couple of months later, the manometry diagnosed me with the diffuse esophageal spasms.

Sari218, if you only have the spasms a couple of times a year, you may not really have spasms, but rather pain from the heartburn. spasms are usually constant, from what I understand. they may subside for a day or 2, but usually come back. medicine may or may not help. It hasn't helped me, unfortunately.

But like kirkland, if you think you have spasms, you should have the manometry done. it's a bad test, but doesn't hurt and will tell you a lot...even if you have hiatal hernia.

My GI says GERD can cause asthma, or exacerbate it.

Best of luck to both, let me know what you find out. If you have any questions about esophageal spasms, I've done a lot of research in the past 8 months! I'm even trying acupuncture to see if it helps!
Uncle Leo
Spasms are bad...

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