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Difficulty Swallowing. Only Drinking Liquids!

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Old 09-03-2017, 10:21 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2017
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isd95 HB User
Difficulty Swallowing. Only Drinking Liquids!

For the past 2 years, I have been having swallowing difficulty.

It all started back in 2015 while eating rice. It just felt like the rice began filling up my chest and it wasn't going down. Eventually it start to feel stuck there and I started to panic which obviously made things worse. Finally, it went down after like 5 minutes without me having to do anything. The next few days I was only drinking milk because my throat felt narrow and seemed like only liquids could go down. Then a week after that, I started trying again and began to eat lentils, bread dipped in milk, and mashed potatoes. But, things still did not feel 100% normal as I was eating a little bit slower and not fast as everyone normally eats. about 8 months down the line, I was only eating very thin soups as swallowing solids felt more uncomfortable. Then at that point, I got an upper endoscopy done which was about a year and 2 months after this problem began.

The upper endoscopy revealed a narrow esophagus, so the doctor dilated it. This dilation gave me relief for the next 5 months, I almost felt like a new person. I got back to eating lentils, bread with milk, and muffins here and there. But slowly, the "stuck" sensation began kicking in again and I fell back down to eating very liquid soups. From that point forward, I'd go back and forth with my GI doctor. My condition got worse to the extent that drinking liquids even became a big task. To provide immediate relief to this insane problem, my doctor stretched my esophagus with a small balloon, which provided no relief to the issue. It was so problematic that the following week, my doctor was kind enough to do another upper endoscopy and gave me a botox injection which would relax my swallowing muscles. Thankfully, this procedure provided me enough relief to tolerate all sorts of drinks, but sadly the relief was very temporary... it only lasted about a week.

At that point in time, I had all sorts of symptoms. I would have a lot of phlegm in my throat, and every time I tried to swallow it, it would feel like the phlegm is just sitting in my throat, not going down, and would literally feel like it is stuck. In combination with this feeling, I would even have a feeling like there is something stuck in my throat, like a crumb or something hard. The feeling was so scary, that I would try to avoid swallowing my saliva just so I don't have to feel that "something" in my throat. Every day would feel like a new challenge, and thankfully, my doctor was easy to get in touch with, so I always felt comfortable to give her a call if needed. One day, these symptoms felt so horrible that I almost felt panicked. I went to the doctor's office and I was prescribed a medicine that would temporarily relax my swallowing muscles, which wasn't very effective in relieving my symptoms. Second, I was provided liquid omeprazole, since I was scared of swallowing pills. An important thing to NOTE is that I was not taking omeprazole until almost 2 years into this problem. So when I was prescribed the liquid omeprazole, that was the most I have been consistent in taking this medicine. After taking omeprazole for a week I started feeling better, as I began to drink juices, light soups, and ice cream. After 3 months of taking omeprazole, I felt really great. All those symptoms that bothered me on a daily basis, began to fade away smile. But the only issue was, I was not really trying any other foods, I just stayed on milk, juice, thin soups, and ice cream. For that reason, I went to my doctor 2 months ago and got another upper endoscopy. She said that everything was perfectly "normal" and they only had to do a "normal" dilation. After this procedure, I actually felt like my swallowing got even better and I started to eat a bit better than before but still not brave enough to try REAL solid foods. That is what has been going on until now.

I was also tested with the barrium swallow study and esophageal manometry. The results were all normal. At this point my GI doctor has no idea what is going on, but I have been referred to a speech language pathologist who will be performing a modified barrium swallow study. Since I have not been trying any new foods, I am very nervous about doing this study as they will be putting food on the table, and evaluate how I will swallow these foods. I am very fearful of eating solid foods due to the times when I tried, it felt like the food wouldn't go down directly and the "stuck" sensation would just make me panic. My doctor thinks that there may be a physical problem, but at the same she thinks there may be a psychological aspect to this issue as well.

Anyone else who has had similar experiences, and if so, have you found an answer to this problem?

Anyone else have any tips on doing the modified barrium swallow with ease?

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Old 09-06-2017, 11:49 AM   #2
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hbguy1 HB User
Re: Difficulty Swallowing. Only Drinking Liquids!

I'm sorry to hear about your issues. It almost sounds like what I have which is Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE) or possibly GERD - the two are very similar and both can make it hard to swallow solid foods. Have you tried an elimination diet to see if that might help? EoE is an allergy disease and many people get better by eliminating milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts/treenuts, and seafood (fish/shellfish) from their diets. I am trying to do this to the best of my abilility.

I also have symptoms of GERD such as acid reflux at night, so I've started elevating my bed to see if that helps. I would suggest doing the same if you have any symptoms of reflux. It seems that the acid that gets onto the esophagus can cause some narrowing which is why PPIs are generally prescribed for these conditions.

On top of chewing very thoroughly, one suggestion I have is to consume your meals with carbonated water. I started doing this and it really helps move the food through the esophagus and clears it at the same time.

So from your post was an actual biopsy done on esophagus tissue? A certain number of white blood cells (eosinophils) found in the biopsy would lead to the diagnosis of EoE or GERD.

Last edited by hbguy1; 09-06-2017 at 11:49 AM.

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Old 09-06-2017, 01:37 PM   #3
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Re: Difficulty Swallowing. Only Drinking Liquids!

Many years ago I had some difficulty swallowing and it turned out to be caused by heat stress; I was living in Florida without air conditioning and running in hot weather.

So your doctor may be on to something; perhaps there is a psychological aspect to your difficulty in swallowing. I think it's worth considering. Do you think it could have been stress that brought it on in the first place? Were you (or are you) living a stressful lifestyle?

Last edited by JohnR41; 09-06-2017 at 01:39 PM.

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