Definition & Symptoms

Achalasia is a disorder of the esophagus in which the normal peristalsis is reduced or absent due to nerve damage. The muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter is located at the bottom of the esophagus where the esophagus joins with the stomach. Typically this ring relaxes when you swallow, allowing food to enter the stomach. In Achalasia, this ring may not relax as well. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing liquids and solids, regurgitation, and occasional chest discomfort.

Risk Factors

Most often this condition occurs in middle aged or older adults.

Diagnostics

Testing that may be considered in the evaluation of this condition include barium esophagram, upper endoscopy, and esophageal manometry testing.

Treatment

Achalasia is a chronic disease with no known cure. However there are certain treatment options available to alleviate symptoms, improve emptying of the esophagus, and prevent further damage to the esophagus. Treatment options include oral pharmacologic agents , Botox injections to the esophagus, pneumatic dilation of the esophagus, and surgery. Treatment selection is tailored to each individual patient.

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