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Throat, esophagus and chest discomfort. Is this due to acid reflux?

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Gastroenterologist, Surgical
Practicing since : 1984
Answered : 922 Questions
I have been getting feelings in my throat, esophogus and chest that are similar to when you get butterflies in your stomach. This started up about six months ago. The first time it lasted for only 3 or 4 minutes, but lately the sensations last for three to six hours or longer. It is bothersome and I feel a tightness in my throat and almost like I have a constant adrenaline rush. I thought this was most likely due to acid reflux, but just now I drank a diet mountain dew and the sensations came on immediately after. I drink coffee which has caffeine and it doesn't affect me this way, so I cannot say that it is the caffeine in Mountain Dew that is causing this. I have no chest pain or pain in my left arm or shoulder. Any ideas?????
Posted Sun, 15 Apr 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Ajit Naniksingh Kukreja 1 hour later

Thanks for posting your query.

Let us be very clear all foods and drinks do not cause same symptoms in all individuals.

There are chances that Mountain dew may cause problem in your case and may not in another patient, it varies.

It appears from your description that you are having lot of anxiety, as any level of stress can affect your Gastrointestinal tract.

A few clarifications from your side will help me in suggesting you better.

1] What is the level of stress you are facing?
2] Do you have a history of smoking?
3] Do you have a history of alcohol consumption?
4] Are you obese or say overweight?
5] What is your meal pattern?
6] What is the condition of work at your office?
7] Have you undergone any investigations in the last six months ?

From your history, it does rule out any cardiac involvement, but if you have any history of blood pressure or a positive family history of cardiac disease, I would recommend you go for an EKG (Electrocardiogram) with your physician.

Get back to me with the above mentioned clarifications so that I can provide my suggestions.

Awaiting your reply.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Throat, esophagus and chest discomfort. Is this due to acid reflux? 1 hour later
Thank you for your answer Dr. Naniksingh Kukreja. There is no history of cardiac disease in my immediate family nor do I have high blood pressure. My job, like many others carries a certain level of stress and although I am usually able to cope with it well, I will say that lately the stress level has been higher than normal. I was a light smoker off and on for about 20 years, but gave up the habit over 7 years ago. I do not consume any alcohol except for an occasional beer and at 5' 10" and 160 lbs, am not overweight. I stay fit by playing tennis several times a week and walking my dogs at night. I do engage in a poor meal pattern because I never eat breakfast, skip lunch and eat a large meal at the end of the day, but I have maintained this pattern of eating since I was 23 years old (am now 57) with no ill effects. I have not had a medical check up in over 5 years, but then have not felt the need to do so since until now, I have always been in fairly good health. These sensations that I am experiencing began about six months ago and the initial episode which only lasted a few minutes, occured on the driving range at my golf course. I felt a tightness in my throat and esophogus with an adrenaline type of rush that was uncomfortable , but not unbearable. As I am writing this to you, I am still experiencing the butterfly sensations and tightness like I described earlier, but now also there is a burning sensation which accompanies it. One thing I might have forgotten to mention is that I drink very little liquids during the day and consume approximately an entire 2 litre bottle of Diet Mountain Dew just about every night. Again, I have been doing this for many years with absolutely no ill effects. I am confused as to why this, if it is the cause, would all of a sudden become problematic. My main concern is that these symptoms not be an underlying cause of a more serious problem. I thank you in advance for your help and advice with this matter. XXXXXXX Fernandez
Answered by Dr. Ajit Naniksingh Kukreja 4 hours later

Thanks for posting your follow-up query. Really appreciate the way you described your history in detail.

Straightaway coming to the point, there could be two reasons which we need to be ruled out in your case:

1] Gastrointestinal issues.

Considering the fact that the digestion power reduces with age, it is high time you should change the pattern of your meals; otherwise also irrespective of age or symptoms - having one huge meal at night is going to cause all sort of gastrointestinal problem including gastritis and Reflux oesophagitis.
To add to it you are consuming 2 liters of Mountain dew, this will dilute your gastric juices and add a volume to the contents. Not to forget that you are facing increased stress of late

Gastritis is an ongoing process; it may take quite some time to establish. So the first and foremost thing is change your dietary habits and avoid the volume of dew - may be reducing it to around 200 ml. A fortnight course with proton pump inhibitor (Prilosec OTC) – one tablet a day might benefit you.

My clinical impression would favor the gastrointestinal issues only, YET

2] In the mean time, again considering the age factor and the history of symptoms coming up recently it is always better to rule out a cardiac cause, so do go for an EKG and be stress free

Hope my answer is helpful. Should you have any additional queries, feel free to write back, I am available to answer them. If you have no more queries do accept my reply.

Get Well Soon!!

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