Oesophageal Patients Association
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Swallow freezing

Hi, I am 7 years post esophagectomy which I had for Achalasia. Things have been going well, but just lately I have noticed an intermittent paralyzing feeling occasionally just as I swallow. Mainly I choke and cough but yesterday I felt unable to breathe and my Stomach tube felt like it was pulsing and I burped air a lot afterward. I had a sore throat and pains under my ribs for several hours.

Feels like it happens just after my tongue moves the food bolus to the back of the throat ready to swallow and it's a bit scary. I am worried about choking. The wife was getting ready to do the Heimlich! Also, would the Heimlich maneuver be damaging to someone who has had a gastric pull up 'ectomy?

Anyone have any ideas what might be the problem?

7 Replies

Hi i would ask for a referral back to hosp. It might be you need a stretch. Don't leave it. Stick to soft food until you know what it is.



I think you probably have to have a barium swallow and/or manometry test to try and establish what is happening. Ask for an appointment / referral to your original surgeon. It sounds like it might be some kind of nerve triggering a reaction, but it is all unqualified speculation. Or perhaps it is something else in your system that is not working properly and is causing a reaction?

I would feel inclined to keep a food diary just in case there are some sorts of food / drink that might trigger it off.

If there is a lot of wind that you need to burp up, I am wondering what might be the cause of that. Are other things working well in your digestive system (eg bowels?)


Because you had achalasia you are slightly different from us carcinoma Ivor Lewisers.

Whether your airway is imperiled depends on where the bolus has got to.

Do you know where your Anastomosis is? If it is Cervical (up in your neck) then that might tend to leave food high enough up to impact the Bronchus -- passage in to the lungs, which points to the need for a stretch.

Get investigated ASAP.

I have told my family not to attempt the Heimlich because of the possibility of rupturing the stomach tube and also because I have lost two ribs and have three fractured vertebrae -- due to malabsorption of calcium.

But when necessary a jolly good thump on the back works wonders.

Are you chewing very carefully --- in what you cough/spit back out are there any lumps, such as small pieces of meat, peas etc --- if so that again may point to the need for a stretch as the lumen has narrowed with scar tissue.

You are right in that it is very scary. I have developed a sort of cough/shout which blasts anything out of my throat ....... noisy and messy ....but at least I haven't suffocated........tends to provide the cabaret in restaurants!!


Thanks for your reply, my anastomosis is in my neck, the last time I had an endoscopy a slightly tight epiglottis sphincter was noted - I wonder if it is a relic of my achalasia asserting itself?


In addition to your impaired swallowing do you suffer from any/all of the following :-

1) An intermittent 'breathy' quality in your voice?

2) A weak cough?

3) A sensation of shortness of breath?


Hi there my sister is 6 weeks into being allowed to eat 14 months after IL op (nil by mouth due to anastomotic leak at surgery site and chest drain for for 13 months) Anyway she is still occasionally feeding through j-tube to help gain wt but is suffering with what you have bullet pointed above Also when she starts to eat her nose runs! So my question is please what is causing the above in your experience and have you heard of anyone with the sniffles? We are still under care of Surgeon so can ask him next visit. Many thanks Sharon


Hi, no other issues like coughs or shortness of breath, just every so often the feeling of the swallow freezing for a second or two just as I move the food bolus to the back of the throat.


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