Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dr. Myers, Why Do I Sometimes Feel Squeezing Pressure in My Chest When Eating or Drinking?

Squeezing pressure in the chest can be a symptom of several problems such as heart disease, gallbladder disease or pressure in the esophagus. If you think the symptoms may be related to your heart call your primary care doctor or go to the emergency room.

However, if this is happening to you several weeks or months after having a bariatric operation it is likely to be esophageal pressure from eating or drinking faster than the pouch or sleeve is emptying thus food, drink and or air is accumulating in the esophagus. The esophagus squeezes the food trying to get it out of the esophagus and into the stomach. However, if the pouch is full the food in the esophagus has nowhere to go. Although there are minimal pain fibers in the stomach, the esophagus is exquisitely sensitive to pressure and will definitely let you know when it cannot move food or drink into the stomach.

This can happen regardless of whether you have had a gastric bypass, gastric sleeve procedure or an adjustable gastric band operation.

In this situation the worst thing you can do is to try to get the food moving by drinking more. This just adds to the problem by adding more fluid into the esophagus and makes the pain more severe. The pain lasts even longer since the additional food or drink also has nowhere to go.

Throwing up what is in the esophagus can give you relief but if you are patient usually the food and drink is likely to pass through the exit of the pouch or sleeve and the pain will be relieved.

After bariatric surgery, eating and drinking too fast should be avoided and may cause squeezing chest pain. When it occurs after eating it may be a possible sign that you may have just eaten too much too fast for the length of time it takes for the food in the pouch or sleeve to pass. In band patients continuing to experience this problem may lead to band slippage. (See band slippage elsewhere in this blog.)Reviewing the “Rule of 30’s” in this blog can help you to avoid this symptom.

Of course, if you have any consern that this is not related to eating too fast call your doctor or go to an emergency room to make sure the pain you are experiencing is not related to your heart.

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