What Are the Symptoms of an Esophageal Spasm?

The symptoms of esophageal spasms include difficulty swallowing, the feeling of an object in the throat, squeezing pain in the chest, and the return of liquids and food to the esophagus, explains Mayo Clinic. The chest pain may spread to the neck, arms, jaw or back, reports WebMD. Patients should seek medical attention once they get a chest pain to rule out or manage heart disease.

Esophageal spasms are irregular contractions of esophagus muscles, and they lead to poor movement of food to the stomach, notes MedlinePlus. The primary cause of this condition is unknown. However, eating food that is very cold or very hot can cause esophageal spasms in some people.

This condition, also referred to as diffuse esophageal spasm, causes food to get stuck in the esophagus when it occurs, according to WebMD. Fortunately, this condition is not common. In some cases, the symptoms may indicate that esophageal spasm results from other conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Doctors prescribe nitroglycerin under the tongue to relieve sudden episodes of the contraction, explains MedlinePlus. Patients also can use long-acting calcium channel blockers for this condition. Those with chronic cases sometimes use low-dose antidepressants, such as nortriptyline or trazodone, to ease the symptoms. In very rare cases, severe contractions require the widening of the esophagus.