Medical Question from ''A Confederacy of Dunces''

In Toole’s novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, Ignatius is always complaining about or referencing his “valve”. Was he suffering from what we would now refer to as “Acid Reflux”, or was it possibly something else?

He was complaining about his lower esophageal sphincter, which is supposed to keep stomach contents from refluxing back up into the esophagus. That’s the valve he was always bitching about.

At least that’s my medical opinion, having pondered his complaints as I read the book less than a year ago. Great book.

Obesity, certain drugs like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, and a variety of prescription medications tend to relax the sphincter, making it rather incompetent as regards doing its job.

Thanks, that makes sense. Was this once a common way of referring to that? In other words, when he complained about his valve, did his contemporaries know what he was talking about or just lump it into the weirdness that was him?

I’m going to go with “general weirdness of Ignatius” for the very few people he actually spoke with.