Achalasia

Achalasia is a serious condition that affects one’ esophagus. The esophagus is the tube carrying food from the throat to the stomach. Achalasia would make this process harder. Then it leads to a backup of food within one’s esophagus. Hence, it makes swallowing difficult. The disease can occur for various reasons. It’s hard for a doctor to find a specific cause.

What are the symptoms of achalasia?

The main symptom of achalasia is that people with it will have trouble swallowing or feel like food is stuck in their esophagus. Besides,  some other symptoms may occur, including:

  • Cough
  • Pain or discomfort in your chest
  • Heartburn
  • Intense pain or discomfort after eating
  • Weight loss
  • High risk of choking on food

How is achalasia diagnosed?

If you have trouble swallowing and it gets worse over time, the doctor may suspect you have achalasia. To further confirm the disease, the doctor may recommend:

  • Esophageal manometry
  • X-ray of your upper digestive system or an endoscopy
  • Barium swallow

What is the treatment for achalasia?

The treatment for achalasia mainly focuses on opening the lower esophageal sphincter so as to help food and liquid move more easily through your digestive tract. Specific treatment depends on your age and the severity of the condition. Basically, the treatment can be either surgical or non-surgical.

Surgical options include:

  • Heller myotomy.
  • Fundoplication.
  • Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM).

Nonsurgical treatment might include:

  • Pneumatic dilation.
  • Botox (botulinum toxin type A).
  • Medication.

What are the medications for people with achalasia?

Your health care team will discuss the possible risks and benefits of each treatment option with you. Medications, such as nifedipine and nitroglycerin, may help to relax spastic esophageal muscles.

People with achalasia may experience satisfactory results for a couple of years after taking nifedipine every day.

 

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.