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"Occasionally food, especially rice, gets stuck in my throat. What can I do?"
It happens every couple of months. To clear my throat I need to either make myself throw up or move around and wait.
It sounds like you have a condition called dysphagia (difficulty with swallowing). It can be a painful (similar to a heart attack) and frightening experience. The more common causes of dysphagia include gastric reflux, hiatal hernia, mass occupying lesion in the esophagus or mediastinum, achalacia, or esophageal strictures. It is important to see a primary care or internist to rule out common and non-surgical reasons. He or she will ask you about the nature of this complaint. For example, how long has this been happening? Does it occur with solid foods only or also with liquid? Have you had acid reflux or heart burn? Do you smoke cigarettes? The first test to initiate is a barium swallow study and a chest x-ray. This shows your doctor if there is any problems with the different phases of your swallowing, or if there is a narrowing in your esophagus. It is also a very good test to see if you have a hiatal hernia. This occurs when the stomach herniates through the diaphragm into the chest. This could occur with just a little part of the stomach, or the entire stomach with other organs as well and it can sometimes herniates up the chest if the defect is large enough. The next test your doctor may recommend is an upper endoscopy. This is a very good test to look at the mucosa of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. If any of parts look abnormal, it could be biopsied and sent to pathology for analysis. Further testings could include other imagings such as a CT scan of the chest and abdomen/pelvis. Again, please talk to your doctor soon!
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