Feels Like Something Stuck in Chest

It is a good idea to be evaluated by a physician when you experience chest discomfort or pain. That is generally to rule out the possibility of having a heart attack, which is a real risk irrespective of your overall health and age. Some people ignore the pain thinking it is nothing serious. Some people continue with their daily routine while having slight discomfort in the chest. You should not take things lightly. See a doctor and he or she will help you understand the real symptoms of heart attack and identify the underlying causes if heart disease is not the problem.

Feels Like Something Stuck in Chest, What Could It Be?

Pain in the chest may well be a sign of heart attack, but there are many other conditions that make you feel as if something is stuck in your chest. Here is more about it.

1. Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

The condition is characterized by improper closure of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is basically a ring of muscles that prevents stomach contents and acids to move back up into the esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to the stomach.


When stomach acid moves up and touches your esophageal lining, you experience a burning sensation in your throat and chest. This feeling is called heartburn. Some people with GERD often feel as if food has stuck in their chest close to the breastbone. The thing is that someone who does not have GERD may experience heartburn occasionally. If you experience acid indigestion more than a couple of times a week, the chances are you have GERD.


What works for you will depend on how severe your GERD is. Making the following lifestyle changes will help in all cases:

  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Do not eat three times a day; instead, eat smaller meals more often.
  • Do not lay down immediately after eating; wait for at least 3 hours before lying down.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and keep your head elevated (6-8 inches) by using extra pillows.
  • Your doctor may also suggest some OTC antacids or some other medications to stop acid production.

2. Esophageal Spasm or Stricture

If it feels like something stuck in chest, you may have developed a disorder called esophageal spasm, which is characterized by abnormal muscle contractions in the narrow muscular organ called esophagus.


You may experience certain symptoms such as dry cough and a feeling that something is stuck in your throat. Difficulty with swallowing liquids or foods is also a common sign. Severe chest pain may be present in some cases.


You can find a number of treatment options for esophageal spasms. For instance:

  • Nitrates as well as calcium channel blockers may help relax your esophageal muscles. You may consider taking Hyoscyamine to relieve spasms.
  • Antianxiety medications and anticholinergic drugs may also prove effective.
  • Many people have seen good effects of taking injections of botulinum toxin. The injections are to be taken into the smooth muscle of your lower esophagus. This will inhibit the transmission of nerve impulses and relieve pain and other symptoms.
  • Patients who do not respond well to medication may require surgery. The surgical procedure is called a myotomy that involves making a long incision in the lower esophageal sphincter to help control spasms.
  • In addition, you may benefit from biofeedback, relaxed breathing, and hypnosis. Drinking a glass of warm water also helps relieve symptoms of esophageal spasms.

3. Hiatal Hernia

When the upper part of your stomach finds its way through your diaphragm and enters into your chest region, you have a hiatal hernia. The diaphragm lies between your chest and abdomen and helps you breathe properly. Your stomach lies underneath the diaphragm, but a portion of it may push through the muscle. The opening in this case is referred to as a hiatus.


You do not usually experience many symptoms, but some people say it often feels like something stuck in chest. This usually happens when bile, stomach acid, or air enters your esophagus. Some specific symptoms are chest pain, belching, trouble swallowing, and heartburn that becomes severe when you lie down.


You do not require any treatment if your hiatal hernia is not causing any trouble. You may have to take medications to treat heartburn and acid reflux. Making simple changes to your diet may also help prevent acid reflux, which is the main reason why you experience certain symptoms. Surgery may be required when regular treatment options do not work.

4. Achalasia

Achalasia is a disorder that makes it difficult for you to eat or drink because the esophagus loses its ability to squeeze food down. In this disorder, the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus also fails to relax completely.


People with this condition often complain about chest pain and say it feels like something stuck in chest. When this happens, you will experience severe coughing, which also increases your risk of aspiration. Other common symptoms are weight loss, pain in the chest, severe discomfort after eating, and heartburn. Some people with this disorder also experience backflow or regurgitation.


You can take oral medications like calcium channel blockers and nitrates to help your sphincter to relax. This will ensure that what you eat passes through the esophagus with ease. Some doctors may recommend Botox to relax the sphincter. For permanent treatment, you may opt for a surgical procedure called esophagomyotomy in which your doctor will alter the sphincter or dilate it.

5. Barrett's Esophagus

When left untreated, GERD can transform into Barrett's esophagus, which is a complicated situation. In this condition, your esophageal lining will change to resemble the lining of the intestine. Even though the condition only affects 10% of people who have chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease, the risk is always there.

You do not experience any different symptoms other than experiencing heartburn and feeling as if something is stuck in your esophagus. You need to treat it or else it may turn into esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is a serious cancer of the esophagus and a life-threatening complication.

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