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Is intermittent difficulty in swallowing related to menopause?

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Posted on Fri, 22 May 2015
Question: I have been experiencing sporadic difficulty swallowing when eating and even occasionally when drinking. It's as if my throat seizes up for a bite/swallow or two. For example, this morning I had a croissant and coffee with cream....my first two bites of the croissant seemed to ball up and it hurt for a moment to swallow, then I got a couple little hiccups and a bit of foam came back up and I spit it out, then I was fine to continue eating with no discomfort at all. This doesn't happen every day, it doesn't necessarily even happen every time I eat something big and more dry like a submarine sandwich or something like that. I'd say it happens a couple times a week to maybe four or five times. This has been going on off and on for a bit over a year, but I can also go weeks and weeks without it happening at all. I am going through menopause and am 48
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Answered by Dr. T Chandrakant (50 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Just a part of in-coordination

Detailed Answer:
Hi.
Thanks for your query.
Read and understood your problems.

To recapitulate: 48/female going through menopause - off and on symptoms of sporadic difficulty swallowing - as if the throat seizes up for one or two bite / swallow - 2-5 times in a week - for over a year can go without for weeks.

The commonest cause of such an occurrence is a bit of in-coordination of the muscles of the swallowing, mostly for no obvious reason and usually for the most unacceptable reason related to a bit of stress and/or anxiety (so common in menopause).

I think this can be taken as non-serious matter.
Just to make sure that there is no organic problem, I would suggest my patients to undergo upper GI endoscopy with visualization of the pharynx minutely and have an opinion of an ENT Surgeon.

I hope this answer helps you. Please feel free to ask for more if you need to or if you feel that there is a gap of communication.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. T Chandrakant (4 hours later)
That actually makes sense. It's almost like my throat gets anxious about swallowing and then I have to mentally set it right in order to swallow properly. I was, of course, afraid of cancer, but while researching these symptoms I also came across EE (Eosinophilic esophagitis) and that seemed potentially likely as well since I do have adult onset asthma (first started noticing symptoms in my early 30s) which is related to, caused by or exacerbated by allergies I developed at the same time. I take Flonase, Pro Air albuterol inhaler and Plumicort. I'd been out of both the Flonase and the Plumicort for weeks and have definitely seen a return of the swallowing issues after a hiatus from them for a couple moths or multiple weeks. I remembered that it does seem like if I run out of my medicines, the swallowing issues come back or are more frequent. Additionally, it seems to mostly be when I eat bread products that I experience this difficulty, and I understand wheat allergy/sensitivity is a common cause for EE swallowing issues. I am in the process of getting an ENT appointment, but this morning was unpleasant so I thought I'd check here too. I do have periods of some tightness in my chest, not painful, and it doesn't feel like my esophagus, more tension related...and they seem to go away once I'm back in a zone where I'm not having hot flashes. I also remember my mom had hay fever when I was growing up and in her later years she did also have problems swallowing. Unfortunately, I cannot ask her about it because she passed away from a stroke at 62. I'm just really afraid of esophageal cancer- is that an ailment where the swallowing difficulties would still be so sporadic even one or two years (maybe even more) after one begins to experience them?
Thank you for your time and your expertise. They are both very appreciated. I do drink red wine...sometimes just a glass or two, often more, and I occasionally have a cigarette or two with the wine, maybe once every two weeks or once a month, it depends.

I used to smoke when I was younger, stopped in my early 30s for all intents and purposes, but I was never a daily smoker- I only smoked when I went out with friends and occasionally if watching a movie with wine at home.

My step-grandfather died of esophageal cancer (no blood relation) so I well-know what a nightmare it is. I'm a mom of a ten year old, so this is extra spooky to consider.
doctor
Answered by Dr. T Chandrakant (18 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
such sporadic events for years together are not specific

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for a detailed follow-up feedback.

I would like to ask a very simple and basic question:
The symptoms which occur once in a while and that to for just for one or two gulps, why would we think so much in depth and try to find out , which again increases the stress and anxiety...

I hope you are getting my point, ans this is as per the history you have provided.
- The symptoms are not present many times for weeks and weeks.

- **(my first two bites of the croissant seemed to ball up and it hurt for a moment to swallow, then I got a couple little hiccups and a bit of foam came back up and I spit it out, then I was fine to continue eating with no discomfort at all)- any condition which is somatic can not cause such a problem...

So stop worrying, there is no condition that can give such sporadic events.

I hope, I have tried to convey.

Please feel free to ask further relevant queries.

You may please rate this answer before closure of the discussion and can certainly contact me on the bellow link in future, whenever you may need me.
http://bit.ly/askdrtchandrakant

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. T Chandrakant

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Practicing since :1984

Answered : 19103 Questions

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Is intermittent difficulty in swallowing related to menopause?

Brief Answer: Just a part of in-coordination Detailed Answer: Hi. Thanks for your query. Read and understood your problems. To recapitulate: 48/female going through menopause - off and on symptoms of sporadic difficulty swallowing - as if the throat seizes up for one or two bite / swallow - 2-5 times in a week - for over a year can go without for weeks. The commonest cause of such an occurrence is a bit of in-coordination of the muscles of the swallowing, mostly for no obvious reason and usually for the most unacceptable reason related to a bit of stress and/or anxiety (so common in menopause). I think this can be taken as non-serious matter. Just to make sure that there is no organic problem, I would suggest my patients to undergo upper GI endoscopy with visualization of the pharynx minutely and have an opinion of an ENT Surgeon. I hope this answer helps you. Please feel free to ask for more if you need to or if you feel that there is a gap of communication.