Q: Hello doc I’ve been having discomfort in my throat for a while now it feels like there’s something stuck in my throat especially in my chest; fatigue and headache is present and there’s this huge discomfort in my chest, like something is stuck there and when I swallow something I can feel that part becoming irritated. I coughed while I was eating yesterday and some pain emanated from there. I just quit smoking recently and I’m 22 years old. Do you think this could be cancer? Two things also – I’ve been smoking for over a year now and sometimes acid pushes up into my esophagus also
A: Hey! Thanks for writing in.
A little Biology class to get us started…:)
When we eat, the food moves down from the mouth, to the esophagus (the food pipe) and into the stomach. There is a sphincter (you can look at it as a valve or control) at the lower end of the esophagus just before the stomach. This valve usually allows food to move in one direction: from the esophagus to the stomach. However, in people with Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), this valve called Lower Esophageal Sphincter allows food to also move back from the stomach to the esophagus. This food, which contains acid from the stomach, causes burning sensations in the esophagus described as heartburn. A condition called hiatal hernia increases the chances of GERD and is usually seen in obese people, pregnant women and during situations that increase the pressure in the abdomen like coughing, sneezing etc.
Symptoms typically include those you have described, really – burning sensation in the chest after eating, difficulty with swallowing, and sensation of having a lump in the throat, chest pain and regurgitation of food or sour-tasting fluid. If your symptoms are worse at night, you could also have disrupted sleep and chronic cough.
Lifestyle factors that play a role in GERD include certain foods like fatty, fried foods, alcohol, minty foods etc, smoking, eating huge meals, lying down immediately after a meal etc
To avoid these eat smaller meals and try not to lie down until
about 3 hours after a meal, keep your weight within normal limits and give
tight clothes a rest 😀 Avoid foods that act as triggers and stay off
smoking. Elevate the feet of your bed by using blocks under the bed. Do not use
pillows to achieve this as it just increases pressure in the stomach and
worsens the problem.
Other treatment modalities include medications and surgery. Your doctor will advise as to what works best for you.
Now, as you can see from this post, your main symptoms are most likely due to smoking. I’m not quite sure whether you are still smoking or you’ve quit. If you haven’t, this is really the time to give it up, don’t you think? J
Tobacco use is a major preventable cause of death worldwide.
The first step to quitting is having a clear desire to quit. You have to be positive, reminding yourself why you need to quit. Apart from having a good support system, avoiding the areas where one usually is encouraged to smoke is a good idea. Friends and acquaintances that encourage you to smoke, should not be seen too frequently…especially as you start off on this process.
It is important to have other hobbies and activities that take your mind off smoking or take the place of smoking…in a sense. Getting more active with a sporting activity or church activities or volunteering etc are all activities that can take the edge off quitting. Some have found switching to oral substitutes like chewing gum, carrots and mints, helpful.
Apart from home support, having a support group of people who wish to quit also helps a lot. I have sent the phone number of a psychologist who can help you during this process. I will update this post shortly with websites that have information on support groups in Lagos for people who wish to quit.
You need to get on with the first part of the work, which is making the decision to quit. Having a wonderful family that you wish to be there for is an extra push. Knowing that many people have been able to kick this habit before you should confirm that you can do this!
I’m rooting for you!
Share the good news as the days progress. You could be encouraging someone else who wishes to quit! Let’s show that this can be done!
For a related post, please click on this https://chatwithdrketch.com/2015/02/24/daily-health-tips-im-trying-to-stop-smoking-pot/
Have a good night, y’all 😀