Knowing Symptoms and Causes of Diffuse Esophageal Spasm to Prevent

Diffuse Esophageal Spasm Symptoms

  • Individuals experiencing esophageal spasms may have symptoms similar to those having heart attack, chest heaviness or pain that radiates from the chest to the shoulders, arms, neck and jaw.
  • Swallowing difficulty may it be food or liquid.
  • Painful swallowing of food or liquid.
  • A feeling that the food swallowed is stucked in the throat or chest.
  • Intermittent esophageal muscle contraction which can be painful at times.
  • Return of intake, food or liquid, to the esophagus.

Diffuse Esophageal Spasm Causes

  • No exact cause of diffuse esophageal spasm is known, but it was reported that very cold and very hot beverages can trigger the condition.

Common Tests/Examinations to Identify Diffuse Esophageal Spasms

  • Esophagram is done by giving the patient thick liquid containing barium that coats the lining of the esophagus for it to be seen on x-ray.
  • Esophageal manometry test is done by inserting a thin tube through the nose or mouth into the esophagus to measure its effectiveness of its muscles in swallowing.
  • Upper endoscopy is done by passing a thin hollow tube with camera through the mouth down the throat to view the esophagus.

Diffuse Esophageal Spasm Treatment


  • Occasional spasms that do not last long may not require medical treatment, but staying away from foods or situations that triggers the onset is recommended.
  • Let the hot food or drink cool down before eating/drinking it.
  • Stress can contribute to the spasm, so handling it is very important. Writing journal or exercise may help.


  • Identifying and management or treatment of underlying health condition such as heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, anxiety, or depression, which brought about the esophageal spasms.
  • Medications for relaxation of swallowing muscles or to control the pain experienced.
  • Rarely, surgery is made for patients whose cases are unmanageable by lifestyle changes or medicines.

Preventing Diffuse Esophageal Spasm

  • Taking in food bit by bit and in smaller bites
  • Chewing food well and slowly swallowing it
  • Avoiding extremely hot and cold food and drink

When to Immediately Seek Doctor’s Help

  • Squeezing chest pain that may be heart attack and not just an ordinary spasm.
  • Sudden onset of pain without knowing the cause of symptom.
  • Frequent and severe spasms causing chronic problem in swallowing and pain, interfering with the ability to eat and drink.