Posted 8/16/2012 10:09 PM (GMT -7)
This is one of the first places I've found online where others have similar experiences so I thought I'd share mine. To clarify, I don't have any symptoms of heartburn or GERD and those are not part of my condition. I did post this as a reply to another post, but realize it is pretty hidden there so I'm posting most of it again here.
5 years ago, I had an episode where I was drinking water and it felt like it got stuck in my throat and was extremely painful for a few minutes. For a week or so, everything seemed to get stuck in my throat - hard foods, soft foods, liquids - and then it went away. A few months after that I had severe chest pain that made me think I was having a heart attack, but it subsided after about 20 minutes and I was fine. This happened again a few months later, but again was gone after about 20 minutes. Then it started happening more and more frequently and lasting longer and longer. I also had what felt like an ulcer in my stomach, but had a scope which showed everything was fine.
The pain was in right below my breast-bone and slightly to the right side of my chest. Usually it also hurt between my shoulder blades in the back too. I had lung x-rays, a ct-scan, a cardiac work-up, and everything came back as normal, yet I continued to have the pain on a regular basis.
I moved from one state to another in the summer of 2008 and continued to have problems, but had found that if I stuck it out for about 20 minutes or got in the shower or found a way to sleep, it would go away. Then, in October I had such severe pain that nothing would help and after 3 hours of agony, my children called 911 and I was taken to the ER and again they did a cardiac work-up and x-rays and everything check out fine. They did give my nitro-glycerin in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and then some good painkillers once I got there.
I was then referred to a gastroenterologist who then did a barium swallow and a manometry test. The barium swallow x-ray came back normal, but the manometry showed very strong uncoordindated spasms and thus I was diagnosed with esophageal spasms.
As treatment, I was put on calcium channel blockers and given nitro-glycerin pills to knock down the painful episodes. I was on these for a few months and the side effects of the calcium channel blockers were awful. I moved again back to my original state and decided I was going to find a way to get off these meds because they weren't really helping (continued to have episodes daily) and I hated the side effects. I normally have very low blood pressure and the calcium channel blockers caused it to be even lower.
But, before I could find help, I again had a very painful episode and took the nitro-glycerin as directed. I was on my 3rd pill after a period of about an hour and my blood pressure bottomed out and I was incapacitated on my bedroom floor while trying to get to the phone for help. My family came home and found me and called 911. At that point my blood pressure was something crazy like 80/40. I was rushed to the ER and treated for the low blood pressure.
After this, I was determined to get off the meds and sought the help of a trusted naturopath. They suggested testing for vitamin/mineral deficiencies and food allergies (blood testing). When the tests came back, they showed I was deficient in folic acid and vitamin E and allergic to 9 different common foods that I ate on a regular basis. It was suggested that I do a 90 day elimination of these foods. I didn't really think it would work, but was desperate to get off the meds. After 3 days of eliminating these 9 foods from my diet, I was pain-free. After 90 days I added these foods back into my diet a little at a time. Now, when I have 'too much' of these foods, I have an attack.
I have also been taking magnesium oxide and L-tryptophan supplements daily. The magnesium relaxes the smooth muscles and the L-tryptophan also helps keep things calm in my digestive tract. If I miss these, I have issues. My episodes are now far and few between.
My theory is, for me, inflammation sets off the spasms. Food allergens, lack of sleep over several days, getting sick with a cold or flu or something all sets these off.
That's my story thus far. I wish I could say I found a cure, but have really just found a way to manage them for the most part. I try to eat healthy, avoid my allergen foods, take my supplements, and for most days in the last 3 years I am spasm free. I hope that helps someone or at least lets someone know they aren't alone in their experiences.<!-- Edit -->