Saturday, February 4, 2012

Checking In

I've been going strong since 5:30 last night. We took Mom to the emergency room because she wasn't getting in better. It was midnight before they decided to admit her overnight. I was back up at the hospital at seven this morning. They released mom at about one and by the time I got home it was close to three. The drug Protonix seem to immediately improve her condition. They also prescribed Prilosec.

The diagnosis was Gastritis and Spasms of the Esophagus. I was curious how serious these were to I went to a medical dictiornary.


In the stomach there is a delicate balance between acid and the wall lining which is protected by mucus. When this mucus lining is disrupted for whatever reason, signs and symptoms of acidity result. This may result in upper abdominal pain, indigestion, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and heartburn. When the condition is allowed to progress, the pain may become continuous; blood may start to leak and be seen in the stools. If the bleeding is rapid and of adequate volume it may even result in vomiting of bright red blood (hematemesis). When the acidity is uncontrolled, it can even cause severe blood loss (anemia) or lead to perforation (hole) in the stomach which is a surgical emergency.


What is esophageal spasm?

Esophageal spasms are irregular, uncoordinated, and sometimes powerful contractions of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. Normally, contractions of the esophagus are coordinated, moving the food through the esophagus and into the stomach.

There are two main types of esophageal spasm:

Diffuse esophageal spasm. This type of spasm is an irregular, uncoordinated squeezing of the muscles of the esophagus. This can prevent food from reaching the stomach, leaving it stuck in the esophagus.

Nutcracker esophagus. This type of spasm squeezes the esophagus in a coordinated way, the same way food is moved down the esophagus normally. But the squeezing is very strong. These contractions move food through the esophagus but can cause severe pain.

You can have both types of esophageal spasm.

Esophageal spasms are uncommon. Often, symptoms that may suggest an esophageal spasm are the result of another condition such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or achalasia, a problem with the nervous system in which the muscles of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) don't work properly. Anxiety or panic attacks can also cause similar symptoms.

What causes esophageal spasm?

The cause of esophageal spasm is unknown. Many doctors believe it results from a disruption of the nerve activity that coordinates the swallowing action of the esophagus. In some people, very hot or very cold foods may trigger an episode.

What are the symptoms?

Most people with this condition have chest pain that may spread outward to the arms, back, neck, or jaw. This pain can feel similar to a heart attack. If you have chest pain, you should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible to rule out or treat cardiac disease.

Other symptoms include difficulty or inability to swallow food or liquid, pain with swallowing, the feeling that food is caught in the center of the chest, and a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn).

How is esophageal spasm diagnosed?

Your doctor can often find out the cause of esophageal spasm from your medical history by asking you a series of questions. These include questions about what foods or liquids trigger symptoms, where it feels like food gets stuck, other symptoms or conditions you may have, and whether you are taking medicines for them.

The diagnosis can be confirmed with tests, including esophagus tests (such as esophageal manometry) or a barium swallow. Esophageal manometry uses a small tube attached to instruments (transducers) that measure pressure. A barium swallow is done using X-rays.

Other tests may be done to find out whether chest pain may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the abnormal backflow (reflux) of food, stomach acid, and other digestive juices from the stomach into the esophagus.

Back to me. Mom had a ton of tests when she was in the hospital. The symptoms she had were classic to the above descriptions of the diseases. They gave her the right medication. She is now home and resting. She really now has no restriction on her diet but was told to start slow and eat carefully for a few days before she gets back to a normal diet.

That is it for the day. Feel free to comment!


Lady DR said...

I'm so glad Mom's home, although it sounds like you've had an exhausting time of it. Also sounds like someone needs to be with her 24/7 to check for symptoms. I wasn't familiar with either condition, although both sound uncomfortable, at best. I'm glad you got her to the doc and he sent her (apparently) to the ER, so you could get some answers.

You must be exhausted. I hope you get a chance to rest a bit tomorrow and that Mom is doing better with the medications. Glad to hear the drugs are helping almost immediately.

Prayers for you and for Mom and hugs, to keep you going.

Pat said...

I knew about gastritis, but I never before heard of esophageal spasms. They sound very frightening.

I'm glad the docs found what was the matter and got it under control. And that she could go home! So much more restful than a hospital!

For you, too. You must be totally exhausted. I hope you can get a good night's sleep and be up and ready to watch tomorrow's game.

See? I actually knew it was tomorrow, even though I avoid almost all sports news. {g}

Mary Z said...

Glad your mom is doing well, and hope the treatment continues to help. I hope you can get some rest, too. I've taken omeprazole (Prilosec) for years for GERD - it works for me with no side effects.

William J. said...


Mom has her strength back and can get up and down by herself. So she is doing fine. Sis and I, however, need a recovery period. We canceled our Super Bowl Party and are both just going to stay home and rest.

Thanks for the prayers, they are needed and appreciated.


William J. said...

Hi Pat

I am really impressed that you knew the game was today!

I knew of gastritis but didn't know how dangerous it was. And I have had esophageal spasms. They are very painful.

I am watching the game today at home. Just quietly watch it without a lot of fanfare!


William J. said...

Mary Z

That O word is what they gave Mom. And do you know if the doctor will give you a prescription for it, it is only five bucks!