Asthma of the oesophagus: the alarming rise of a rare inflammatory condition

The little-known digestive disease is hard to diagnose but can affect swallowing and require emergency treatment

Lisa Thornton was heavily pregnant and in her early 30s when she noticed the feeling of a blockage in her oesophagus, the muscular food pipe that connects the mouth to the stomach. “At the time, I just thought it was just the pregnancy,” says Thornton, now 50, who lives in the New Forest in Hampshire. “I thought it was everything pushing up. But a few years later, things started to get worse.”

During a Sunday roast with her family, a chunk of broccoli suddenly lodged in her throat, causing spasms that persisted for hours. Any attempts to wash it down with water failed as the fluid simply came straight back up. Thornton drove to a nearby drop-in centre, where doctors tried, without success, to free the blockage with muscle relaxants.

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