Esophageal Spasm - Topic Overview
How is it treated?
Treatment for esophageal spasm
includes treating other conditions that may make esophageal spasms worse, such
as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is usually treated with changes
to diet and lifestyle and medicines to reduce the amount of acid in the
Here are some things to try:
- Change your eating habits.
- It’s best to eat several small meals
instead of two or three large meals.
- After you eat, wait 2 to 3
hours before you lie down. Late-night snacks aren't a good
- Chocolate, mint, and alcohol can make GERD worse. They relax
the valve between the esophagus and the stomach.
- Spicy foods, foods
that have a lot of acid (like tomatoes and oranges), and coffee can make GERD
symptoms worse in some people. If your symptoms are worse after you eat a
certain food, you may want to stop eating that food to see if your symptoms get
- Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
you have GERD symptoms at night, raise the head of your bed
6 in. (15 cm) to
8 in. (20 cm) by putting the
frame on blocks or placing a foam wedge under the head of your mattress.
(Adding extra pillows does not work.)
- Do not wear tight clothing
around your middle.
- Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 5 to
10 pounds can help.
If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to help GERD, your doctor may suggest you try medicines that reduce stomach
acid. Over-the-counter medicines include:
- Antacids, such as Maalox, Mylanta, or Tums.
- Stronger acid reducers, such as famotidine (for example, Pepcid),
ranitidine (for example, Zantac), or omeprazole (for example, Prilosec).
Spasms themselves may be treated directly with medicines such as
nitrates and calcium channel blockers to relax the muscles of the esophagus. But these medicines are not always effective. Your doctor may also
recommend certain types of antidepressant medicines. Even though you may not be
depressed, these medicines can help with the pain.
Treating anxiety with
relaxation and controlled breathing exercises may also help to reduce
In rare cases, surgery is used
to treat esophageal spasm. The surgeon cuts the muscles along the lower
esophagus. This procedure is usually done only in serious cases that do
not respond to other therapies.