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ScottyMcGeester's avatar

What can I do when food is stuck in my esophagus (down near my chest)

Asked by ScottyMcGeester (934 points ) February 7th, 2013

I have a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis. It’s not clearly understood, and I may be allergic to yellow dye, which can inflame my esophagus and make food harder to travel. It’s happened twice in the past five years where I had to get an endoscopy. Today, it’s happening again but this time not as bad yet still uncomfortable.

I am able to swallow liquids and saliva without needing to regurgitate. I even swallowed a pill of Omeprazole, which is what the doc suggested I take whenever I have an “attack,” However, when I chug water I can feel this heartburn sensation for a couple seconds as the water feels like it gets clogged, but then goes down. So I know something is still in there. I’m afraid to try to eat anything because it might make things worse. Although I don’t know. . hence why I’m asking what I should do. I had veal parm sub. It seems like it was the veal that got stuck in there, since I regurgitated most of it already but like I said, still something there.

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14 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

This sounds like a good time to call your doctor, while you are in the middle of experiencing the discomfort associated with your condition. If omeprazole isn’t helping, he or she may be able to recommend another over the counter product that may work better for you (or a script for corticosteroids to help with the allergic reaction you are experiencing). Part of the difficulty may be that the omeprazole is in a pill form as you may do much better with a liquid medication. You may need some more significant dietary modifications to reduce the likelihood of an “attack” for lack of a better word.

You may also need to consume liquids more slowly rather than “chugging” water as it is going to encounter the restricted segment(s) of your esophagus and be painful.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

@Kayak8 Yeah, I finished an entire bottle of water slowly. I just chugged once to see what would happen, hopefully forcing down the food, but the discomfort struck. I’m currently drinking water and yogurt. Both are going down but still with discomfort. I might need to regurgitate actually. I feel it. I ALMOST regurgitated what’s in there now, I literally felt it travel up my throat but alas by that time I had been trying to cough it out so much that I couldn’t do it anymore.

Pandora's avatar

This may sound weird but can you control belch? If you do it deep and long enough you can create a vibration and maybe it can shake things loose. If it may be an allergy, than maybe benedryl may reduce the swelling.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

No, I can’t belch on command. I know it’s an allergy, but not one that benedryl really relieves, although I took it anyway. I tried regurgitating just now and it still hasn’t come out. I mean, I can FEEL it moving upwards when I try to gag but it’s never enough to make it come out fully. Dammit, this is the worst time to get an endoscopy – I have work and other important things to do for the weekend. Is there anything I can drink that would make me vomit/regurgitate?

HolographicUniverse's avatar

I wouldn’t suggest medication at the moment, how long has it been stuck and what is your level of discomfort? If it is severe, has been stuck over a long period of time or is causing prominent respiratory problems, you need to visit the E.R for endoscopic removal of the foreign body.
If it’s mild, sitting in your esophagus or causing heartburn, you can do home remedies.

Like drinking plenty of fluid, the pressure from the liquid combined with your gag reflexes should force the food out (just avoid sodas, caffeinated or sugary beverages, or juices)

You can perform the Heimlich maneuver or you can even manually vomit.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

I ended up somehow getting the urge to seriously vomit. I don’t know why that suddenly came up. I was just continuing drinking some water and then my stomach felt the need to throw up. So I ended up regurgitating a great deal of what was stuck, but yet THERE’S STILL something there, albeit much smaller now. It doesn’t hurt if I chug water, but it’s still sluggish.

And just a quick timetable, it happened around 9pm at a restaurant, and it’s now midnight. It hasn’t caused any respiratory issues since it happened. It’s just discomfort and unable to swallow food.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Well doesn’t sound too serious, it’s only been 3.hours. What did you eat? More than likely it will have subsided by the morning, casually drink a liquid to help with the chemical breakdown, when it’s done you can probably take something to alleviate any bruising on the esophagus or to relieve any lingering pain.

Word of caution next time, your physician should have provided a dietary plan based around your condition to avoid situations like this. In addition, it might have done well to inform you of better eating habits as well (like chewing 25 times before you swallow) Be more wary of what you consume therefore not to agitate the esophagitis

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

@HolographicUniverse Is there any suggested position I should be in to help the food go down while I sleep/rest?

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Unfortunately I know of no sleep remedies to remove the obstruction, since all home remedies are done by force.
I would say do two things that people who suffer from heartburn do.
1 sleep on your left side
2 elevate the body because when laying on a flat surface your body and throat are at the same level which can allow stomach acid to creep into the esophagus.

But sorry, I don’t know of any specific techniques to help remove it during sleep, it should have disintegrated by morning

Personally,I have this happen often to where it feels as.if the food is resting on the heart. I simply drink fluids to apply pressure, and hot tea in order to break it down.. Should work like a charm if it’s not gone by morning

SamandMax's avatar

Hmm..“Acid reflux my old friend, I’ve come to chuck you up again.”

I’m not so sure that Gaviscon (over the counter), Peptac Liquid (which is prescribed but is still Gaviscon by any other name) or any other liquid medication along those lines may help here, as that deals with excessive acid forming in the stomach and coming back up the esophagus, not the fact that you’ve got something stuck in your esophagus. @HolographicUniverse did make some good suggestions that are known to work for many with the same kind of problems in terms of upsets of that particular nature.

A word about antacids. Too much of that over a long period of time can actually make heartburn worse, not better. This is because instead of too much acid, you’re now not getting enough acid being produced in order to break down food, which makes it awkward because it means you have to be more careful with your diet.
Get sipping the tea and drinking the fluids but only if caffeine is not likely to cause further irritation as it can do that.

Not to panic you in saying so of course but there are very good reasons for the endoscopy being carried out, especially if this is a prolonged issue.

Given your condition which you’ve had for years, as much as you may not want to, nor like to, I strongly recommend you see your doctor.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

I’ve seen my doc a bunch of times about this. He said the best I can do is take omeprazole and Flovent (an inhaler for asthma but somehow still works for opening up the esophagus, which is still not fully understood why). That’s the annoying thing about this – it’s a condition not fully understood. It may be tied with a food allergy, but whenever I go to a food allergy test (I’ve had two) almost everything comes up positive, despite the fact that I’ve eaten those things since I was alive pretty much. The food allergist suggested an extreme diet then (And by extreme I mean EXTREME – for about a month I’d be basically living on bread and some fruit).

The other annoying thing about this is that it DOESN’T really happen frequently. When it does, almost everything I ate happened to have yellow dye #5, which the first food allergist said was a terrible ingredient and exacerbated this condition. The second food allergist disagreed and said that was all poppy-cock. But being that this is me, and I’m experiencing this, I noticed that 99.9% of the time there’s yellow dye #5 on the ingredients. Unfortunately, that means at restaurants any kind of sauce that’s yellowish might have it yet I won’t know. So I have to be wary and either avoid it or have it on the side.

I woke up today and was able to have breakfast. Cranberry juice, water, grapes, Cheerios and toast. I took it easy. And of course took small bites. I don’t know if the vague feeling I still have is me being nervous or my esophagus just feeling sore from regurgitating so much, being that I ate everything and it all went down with ease. No heartburn feeling anymore.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Yes I agree, your condition is still not fully understood, neither is the treatment and so I understand your frustration (in addition your symptoms are similar to 20 other disorders)
But hopefully this helps shed a little light

” Eosinophils (e-oh-SIN-oh-phils) are white blood cells that regulate inflammation and play a key role in allergic reactions. Eosinophilic esophagitis occurs with a high concentration of these white blood cells in the esophagus, most likely in response to an allergy-causing agent (allergen).

In many cases, people who have this kind of esophagitis are allergic to one or more foods. Some foods that may cause eosinophilic esophagitis include milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, beans, rye and beef. People with eosinophilic esophagitis may have other nonfood allergies. For example, inhaled allergens, such as pollen, may be the cause in some cases.”

Glad to hear you’re feeling better and I suspect the lingering feeling is psychosomatic or a result of strain, nothing major.

KNOWITALL's avatar

May I ask how you feel each morning and evening while brushing your teeth? Or with toothpaste?

I have a similar situation myself.

Lightlyseared's avatar

You should mention it to your gastroenterologist. Its probably worth having another OGD to have a look at your oesophagus as you can sometimes get an oesophageal stricture (narrowing) with this condition which would defiantly cause the sensation of food getting stuck. If there is a stricture it can be gently stretched to improve the symptoms.

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