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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Tightness in throat

03/10/2009

Question:

I have bad acid reflux, and my ENT says that I have some irritaion in my throat, and he placed me on Nexium twice a day. I have been on Nexium (once a day) for a month, but I still get this really bad swelling feeling in my throat daily. Also I have trouble swallowing certain foods like meat. I try and chew it until it`s basically mush and chase it w/water, but most times I feel it hang up in my throat area. What is causing this tightnes feeling and why can I eat cookies ok, but have trouble with meats i.e. Hamburgers or Meatloaf?

Answer:

Acid reflux tends to give you symptoms like those you are complaining of.  We often see people with difficulty swallowing, a lump (tightness) in the throat sensation, cough, mucus accumulation in the throat (often referred to as sinus drainage), intermittent hoarseness and frequent throat clearing.

It sounds like your symptoms are consistent with acid reflux.  Twice daily Nexium is often helpful.  Another option might be to get yourself food allergy tested.  I am often amazed that many of our reflux patients also have food allergies that I believe may be contributing to this condition.

To answer your question, the tightness is thought to be a spasm of the muscle at the top of the esophagus, the upper esophageal sphincter (cricopharyngeus).  This muscle is thought to go into spasm as a result of the stomach acid irritating the upper part of the esophagus.

Good luck and be well.

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Response by:

Keith M Wilson, MD Keith M Wilson, MD
Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Head and Neck Division
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati