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Ate out and sick

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I ate out last night, and the morning after I felt very sick, with a strange tightness feeling in my upper abdomen area, below chest, directly in the center around my solar plex. It feels like someone is stepping on that area, or has a rope wrapped around it and squeezing. It only lasts for about 5 seconds, but it occurs every 10 or so minutes, especially when laying down or while eating. Its been happening all day, and now its keeping me from sleeping. As well as light diarrhea and quite a bit of burps and gas. What should I do?

Thanks in advance

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
 19 Doctors Online


Thanks for choosing for your queries.

You are describing what is classically known as esophageal spasm. This is most likely triggered by a mild infection (food poisoning) after something that you ate at night; since you noticed symptoms the first thing in the morning. Spasm of the lower esophageal sphincter can be caused by gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux due to bacteria producing symptoms of acidity, inflammation, and gas production in the gut. Here is what I suggest:

1. Give your digestive system a break and eat light foods such as soups and cooked veggies until you recover (a few days should enough for an episode like this). Try to stay away from meat and heavy carbohydrates that will only make the symptoms worse by feeding the bacteria and taxing your gut.

2. At night, stack pillows and place under your head and upper body so that you can sleep at a 45 degree angle (or close). This will reduce the symptoms at night and help you sleep better until you recover.

3. Pepto bismol is available over the counter and may offer some relief from the gas, diarrhea, and pain. Note that the pink solution can turn your stools black and should not be confused with bloody stools (which can look black as well).

4. If symptoms persist longer than 2 days, make an appointment with your local gastroenterologist. You may require antibiotics to treat the infection and/or proton pump inhibitors to bring down the stomach acidity.

5. For persistent symptoms of acidity/gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), consider taking a course of proton pump inhibitors to reduce the recurrence of symptoms.

It should take just a few days to recover from the food poisoning and if the symptoms of GERD persist, consider getting evaluated by a gastroenterologist. If symptoms are severe, nitrates and calcium channel blockers can be used to treat the non-cardiac chest pain due to esophageal spasm. Further testing may include a barium swallow to visualize the structural state of the esophagus and surrounding structures. Work with your local physician on deciding further treatment if necessary.

Take care and please ask follow up questions, if any.

Patient replied :

So if my symptoms last longer than tonight I should visit a doctor? And is it normal for it to happen all throughout the day, it woke me up 4 times in the night? Thank you so much for your response I really appreciate the help!


Yes I would suggest that if the symptoms are persisting after tonight, you should visit your local doctor, especially if the symptoms have been waking you up frequently at night. You will benefit from medication as you might have a more serious infection than previously thought.

urthermore, you may prevent damage to your mucosa due to inflammation, by reducing stomach acidity with Omeprazole. It is not normal for you to be experiencing pain as such, which is most likely esophageal spasm due to GERD.

Please update me with any info or concerns you may have. Take care.

Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy
Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
MBBS from Sri Ramachandra University in December 2011
M.Med (Family Medicine) - TNMGR University, Chennai
MBA-MPH in Public Health in March 2016, SRM University
Finished AFIH in March 2016, SRM University
MRCP ( UK ), Internal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, June 2016
Fellowship in Diabetology from Martin Luther University in January 2017

Currently Resident Physician, in MD Radiodiagnosis - Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, Chennai
Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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