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Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, US Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
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My husband sometimes feels like he cant swallow; possibly

Resolved Question:

My husband sometimes feels like he can't swallow; possibly due to a muscle spasm. He can breath,_but can't put water or food down or up. This creates_a foam like substance to build up and he has to expel it repeatedly to clear his mouth. After a while,_the spasm or whatever it is goes away. What causes this?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.

How long has this been going on?
How old is your husband?
Has he experienced any weight loss?
Pain in the chest?

Dr Abby
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

It has been sporadic for a couple of years. Very infrequent. Probably only 3 or 4 times over the 2 year period.

He is 85.

No weight loss. He is about 160#

No pain in the chest. It usually happens when we are out to dinner.


Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for clarifying,

The fact that it is happening with solids and liquids suggests that it is a problem with motility (meaning the contractions) of the esophagus.
This can be due to esophageal spasms (which is exactly how you have described it). These can be triggered by acid reflux, hot or cold foods, carbonated beverages and even certain smells.

The underlying cause of the spasms is not well understood.

I do recommend that he consider having a swallow study or an upper endoscopy (scope) performed to evaluate his swallow mechanism and to make sure there is not any underlying obstruction (unlikely due to the fact that it is so intermittent).

Treatments can include medications....however given the infrequency his doctor may elect to simply watch for now.

Here is more information if you would like to read:

Feel free to ask any follow up questions you may have,

Dr Abby

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