esophageal strictures/possible chronic allergy

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Does anybody (especially men, as it seems to be especially common in men) have experience with getting food stuck in their esophagus? As a chronic life issue? A number of men in my family have experienced this regularly, and I always dismissed it as not chewing their food, eating too much gristle off chicken bones, cutting steak too big, etc. But my husband had to have a bite of food removed from his esophagus last week, and the ENT told us the biopsy tissue results came back consistent with eosinophilic esophagitis, which as I understand essentially means chronic allergy to some food or food group, causing the esophagus to swell and constrict. It's super expensive to test this allergy since the allergic reaction doesn't necessarily happen externally; you may have to get a scope done each time you re-intro a food you've excluded to see if you're having an allergic reaction.

I ride my bike pretty good these days, and my husband's general meal template has gradually shifted to look mostly like mine, though he does eat oatmeal pretty regularly, and still has the occasional milkshake. We generally eat really well, and healthily. I'm curious if anybody has experience with this and whether the Whole 30 experiment interacted with the condition, helped you discover a food allergy, or helped you manage this condition. I'm not sure what direction to go, as the ENT told me that the last two people he worked with that honed in on their allergies found them to be milk and strawberries, respectively. Fresh strawberries, of all things. I feel like I thought I had an understanding of how to feed us well, and now my compass is spinning in circles!

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  • 8 months later...

I know this is an old post but this is a BIG problem in our family - men and women! I know of 12 people in my late paternal grandmother's side of the family who suffer with this - including her. My dad had to have progressively larger tubes inserted over several weeks to restretch his esophagus because it was so chronically tight. I never considered that it might be a food intolerance because, when it starts happening to me, I am able to deep breathe and relax my way past it - the men in my family tend to try to fight it and it just gets worse and worse. I had an episode a few weeks back that I relaxed through - it does loosen when I do that. Moving forward, I am going to see if there's an allergic reaction happening by paying more attention to what I am eating when it does happen.

Thanks for raising this issue (if you even see this :) )


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  • 10 months later...

Wow! Thanks for the feedback--this is scary and yet, comforting to know somebody else has experienced it. He  eats raw vegetables really minimally now--tomatoes okay, some greens, but otherwise, always cooked, and largely avoiding certain root vegetables. Also, never movie theater popcorn (which, ew, anyway). And obviously we are careful about cuts of meat and bite size... but it sure feels like it is sometimes totally unrelated, or we can't make the data points connect into a meaningful conclusion, and we are just guessing because of associating other bad reactions to food with the stricture thing. 

He does tend to panic a bit--reasonable--and the doc really tried to forcefully move things, with diet soda and a vomit-inducing medication. So it's interesting that the opposite approach, relaxing, might be helpful. Thanks again for the feedback!

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  • 1 year later...

Hey @chichi

This has been an eye opening diagnosis for me. I spoke to my MD about it and she agrees that this is likely what is happening although, as you noted, the test is both expensive and invasive so I am not having a formal diagnosis. I have all the common adult symptoms: difficulty swallowing, food getting stuck in the esophagus after swallowing, chest pain that is often centrally located and does not respond to antacids (I hadn't associated this with the other symptoms until I read this), and backflow of undigested food.

I have been taking losec for many years and it does help but I have never been able to wean off of it because of pain. For my first W30 I was hoping the problems would go away - nope. Can't have everything :) I will stay on the medication. 

My food challenges that I have been able to pin down conclusively are coconut and many additives but especially guar gum and agar-agar (maybe seaweed then?). Cooking with coconut doesn't seem to as problematic as raw coconut and coconut milk/yogurt.

Anyway - if you ever see this, thanks again for raising this as an issue. I have spread the news to my family - we've always thought we had some kind of structural abnormality but this makes more sense.

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