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Esophageal spasm

  • Alternative Names

    Diffuse esophageal spasm; Spasm of the esophagus


    Nitroglycerin given under the tongue (sublingual) may be effective in an acute episode of esophageal spasm. Long-acting nitroglycerin and calcium channel blockers are also used to treat esophageal spasms.

    Long-term (chronic) cases are sometimes treated with low-dose antidepressants such as trazodone or nortriptyline to reduce symptoms.

    Rarely, severe cases may need dilation (widening) of the esophagus or surgery to control symptoms. However, it is not clear whether these procedures will help.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    An esophageal spasm may come and go (intermittent) or last for a long time (chronic). Medicine can help relieve symptoms.


    The condition may not respond to treatment.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you have symptoms of esophageal spasm that don't go away.