Cardiospasm and Receiving Social Security Disability BenefitsYour esophagus is made up of three functioning parts. The upper part of your esophagus is called the upper esophageal sphincter, which is a specialized ring of muscle. Your upper esophageal sphincter divides your esophagus from your throat. Your esophageal sphincter stays closed most of the time. This is to prevent the food that you eat from backing up from the main part of your esophagus into your throat. The body of your esophagus is the middle part of your esophagus. It is a muscular tube that is about 8 inches long. Its primary function is to transport saliva, food and liquids from your mouth to your stomach. Your lower esophageal sphincter is the last part of your esophagus. It is a specialized ring of muscle that is located where your stomach and esophagus come together. Like your upper esophageal sphincter, your lower esophageal sphincter stays closed most of the time. This is to prevent food in your stomach from backing up into the body of your esophagus. When your esophagus is functioning like it ought to, it permits the food that you eat to travel from one part to the next by what is referred to as a peristaltic wave. Then, when your food reaches the lower esophageal sphincter, it is open and allows food to pass into your stomach. Cardiospasm is a rare disease of the muscle of your esophagus. Cardiospasm is characterized by your lower esophageal sphincter failing to open. As a result of this, the food that you eat is not allowed to go into your stomach. The food backs up into the body of your esophagus. Cardiospasm occurs in somewhere around 2,000 people in the United States each year. Cardiospasm takes place most often in adults. However, this disease can also develop in children. Cardiospasm has no racial or ethnic predilection. It occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Cardiospasm is not a disease that runs in families. The cause of cardiospasm is not known at the present time. Some researchers believe that cardiospasm may be related to heredity (genetics) or an infection. Other scientists think that cardiospasm is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is one in which your immune system that attacks anything foreign that invades your body, for some unknown reason, mistakenly attacks the tissues and cells of your own body. The most prominent sign or symptom of cardiospasm is dysphagia. This is when you have a hard time swallowing. Cardiospasm may cause you to feel like your food is sticking in your chest after you swallow it. With cardiospasm, dysphagia is a problem that occurs with both liquid and solid food. Dysphagia develops into a chronic (ongoing) difficulty that takes place with virtually every meal that you eat. There are other signs and symptoms that you may also have with cardiospasm. Some of these include:
- ? Unintentional weight loss because of the problem you have with swallowing
- ? Choking and coughing if food backs up into your throat
- ? Aspiration pneumonia if food travels into your trachea (windpipe) and lung
- ? Regurgitation of food that is trapped in your esophagus
- ? Spasm-like chest pains that feel like heartburn or pressure on your sternum that can mimic angina (heart pain)
- ? A progressive problem with drinking liquids and eating solid food that may take years to evolve.