About Achalasia

What is Achalasia?

Achalasia is a rare disorder of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. It is caused by a problem with the nerves and muscles that control swallowing. Symptoms of achalasia include difficulty swallowing, chest pain, regurgitation of food, and weight loss. Treatment options include medications, endoscopic procedures, and surgery.

What are the symptoms of Achalasia?

The main symptom of achalasia is difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Other symptoms may include:

- Regurgitation of food or liquids

- Chest Pain or pressure

- Coughing or gagging when trying to swallow

- Unexplained weight loss

- Heartburn

- Feeling of food getting stuck in the throat or chest

- Vomiting

- Bad breath

What are the causes of Achalasia?

The exact cause of achalasia is unknown, but it is believed to be related to a malfunction of the nerve cells in the esophagus. It is thought that the nerve cells responsible for controlling the muscles of the esophagus become damaged or destroyed, leading to a lack of coordination between the muscles and the nerves. This results in difficulty swallowing and food becoming stuck in the esophagus. Other possible causes of achalasia include autoimmune disorders, genetic factors, and certain infections.

What are the treatments for Achalasia?

1. Medications: Medications such as calcium channel blockers, nitrates, and botulinum toxin can help relax the muscles of the esophagus and make it easier to swallow.

2. Endoscopic Therapy: Endoscopic therapy involves using a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end to inject a substance into the lower esophageal sphincter to relax it.

3. Surgery: Surgery is an option for people with achalasia who do not respond to other treatments. The most common type of surgery is called a Heller myotomy, which involves cutting the muscle of the lower esophageal sphincter to make it easier to swallow.

What are the risk factors for Achalasia?

1. Age: Achalasia is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

2. Gender: Achalasia is more common in men than in women.

3. Family history: Having a family member with achalasia increases the risk of developing the condition.

4. Autoimmune disorders: People with autoimmune disorders such as scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjogren’s syndrome are at an increased risk of developing achalasia.

5. Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing achalasia.

Is there a cure/medications for Achalasia?

Yes, there are treatments available for achalasia. These include medications, endoscopic treatments, and surgery. Medications used to treat achalasia include nitrates, calcium channel blockers, and botulinum toxin injections. Endoscopic treatments include balloon dilation and pneumatic dilation. Surgery is also an option and can involve cutting the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus or removing the lower part of the esophagus and reattaching it to the stomach.