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Chest spasms, tightness, twitching in throat, causes ?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
Answered : 2551 Questions
Hello, I have a question that is similar to other ones I have seen posted. It is probably nothing serious, but the type of feeling I want to describe has to do with my chest (feels like my heart) sometimes has these spasms. Some days are worse than others. Lately, it's been happening frequently. I get this weird twitching feeling in my throat, and then sometimes it radiates down towards my chest (like I said, feels like my heart jumps.) There is a tight feeling I get as well accompanied with this in my lungs. I get so paranoid sometimes, I try to take my pulse on my neck... and I can feel the twitching in my throat. It feels very strange and scared me on a few occasions because I think it's my heart skipping beats and stopping irregularly, could you perhaps give me an idea of what could be going on? I do smoke... so I'm not sure if that has to do with it. I'm 23 years old, been smoking for 6 years. On my next doctor's appointment, I'm going to ask my doctor about some possible options to quit. I hate smoking!
Mon, 21 May 2012 in GERD
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 33 minutes later

Thank you for your query.

Acid Reflux, which may be stress related, triggers off throat and esophageal spasms besides causing vagal nerve irritation. The Vagus Nerve is the longest cranial nerve in our body and it supplies multiple structures such as the larynx (throat), esophagus (food pipe), heart, lungs and stomach. This explains the fluttering, palpitations and chest tightness.

Reflux, like stress and anxiety, can be silent and of different types: GERD (Gastro Esophageal reflux Disease) or LPR (Laryngo Pharyngeal Reflux).

Smoking worsens acidity and reflux, weakens the lungs and increases your risk of upper airway and gut cancer. Within 5 years of cessation of smoking, your risk of cancer reduces to that of a non-smoker.

At your age, most tests will be normal. However I usually get a Chest X-ray, ECG and USG (UltraSonoGraphy) of the Abdomen done to rule out hiatus (or sliding) hernia. If these are normal, simple antacids and anti-reflux medication under supervision of your local doctor or physician will control your symptoms. Diet control measures also have to be followed. Remember that our stomach normally secretes very corrosive acid and the damage caused by this to the throat and esophagus requires time to heal.

Hope I have answered your query. If you have any follow up queries I will be available to answer them.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Chest spasms, tightness, twitching in throat, causes ? 15 minutes later
Great! That really does sound spot-on. I have been having anxiety attacks lately as well. Also, I have had some burning in my chest/throat from time to time that is pretty relieved by drinking cold water... but I do still feel a slight burning. I will get this taken care of right away. Thank you so much for your answer and time! That makes me feel so much better. I have a doctor's appointment coming up, so this will make it much easier for me in explaining what is going on. I also have to get my back looked at (they have a 3D MRI machine at this hospital I heard, so perhaps they can get my chest looked at closer as well.) I have a compressed disc in between my shoulder blades from a previous car accident that acts up once in a while.
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 9 hours later

Good to hear from you again.

Yes, your heartburn will respond to anti-reflux medication. This will help control your anxiety attacks.

MRI is the best modality for imaging the spine. It can also help examine the chest area at the same time.

I wanted to suggest you a few points on your disc problem.
1. If all other modalities have been exhausted, you must explore Ozone Therapy for your compressed disc.
2. Depending upon the findings of your MRI Spine, if the vertebral end plates have been damaged, you should stay in touch with the developments at the Scripps XXXXXXX Hospital, San XXXXXXX CA. One of my colleagues Dr. XXXXXXX XXXXXXX is working on a team developing cartilage stem cell injections. Though this is still in the experimental stage, it holds promise for treatment in the future.
3. The Mayo Clinic will be the best Spine Clinic in your area.

Hope this answers your query.

Wish you a good health.
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