P643 Watch It Grow: Esophageal Impaction With Chia Seeds

Presentation: Monday, Oct 20, 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Rebecca Rawl, MD
Rebecca Rawl, MD, MPH

Author insight from Rebecca Rawl, MD, MPH, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC

What’s new here and important for clinicians?
The use of chia seeds as a health food item has become more popular over the last several years.  Chia seeds have the ability to absorb up to 27 times their weight in water.  For this reason, patients with a history of dysphagia or known esophageal strictures should be cautioned that chia seeds should only be consumed when they have had the ability to fully expand in liquid prior to ingestion.  If the esophagus becomes impacted with chia seeds, their removal can be difficult using the traditional tools used for endoscopic extraction.

Chia seed impaction in esophagus
Chia seed impaction in esophagus





What do patients need to know?
Patients should never consume dry chia seeds.  They can absorb many times their weight in water and expand and may become lodged in a patient’s esophagus, especially if there is a history of swallowing problems.  However when used properly, chia seeds are safe.  They should only be mixed with sufficient amounts of liquid to allow them to expand before consumption.  Patients with any history of swallowing problems should use them with caution.  Patients should present for medical evaluation if they have difficulty swallowing foods or liquids, especially if they are unable to swallow their own saliva as this can be a sign of complete blockage of the esophagus.  If blockage of the esophagus occurs, also called esophageal impaction, endoscopic removal is required.

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Author Contact

Rebecca E. Rawl, MD, MPH, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC

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