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Achalasia - Symptoms + Treatment

Dr. Parthasarathy G 89% (15 ratings)
MBBS, MS - General Surgery, M.Ch - Surgical Gastroenterology/G.I. Surgery, Fellowship in Hepatobiliary Surgery & Liver Transplantation, International Visiting Scholar
Gastroenterologist, Hyderabad  •  16 years experience
Achalasia - Symptoms + Treatment

Achalasia is a serious disorder of the esophagus in which your nerves and muscles fail to work properly. This disorder causes problems in your body such as chest pain, difficulty to swallow food and excessive coughing.

You will also face problems in breathing in case the food enters in to the lungs. There is a valve in your lower esophageal splinter, which closes the esophagus from your stomach. If you have problems like achalasia then perhaps your lower esophageal splinter fails to open while swallowing food it can lead to accumulation of food in esophagus. In this condition the nerves in your body gets damaged and hence cause health complications.

You are at risk of achalasia when you are middle aged, but it can also occur during childhood. Auto immune disorder often places you at risk for achalasia.

Symptoms of achalasia:
The major symptom of achalasia is dysphagia in which you face problems while swallowing food. You may feel that the food is struck in your esophagus which causes choking and problems when you breathe. There may be other symptoms of achalasia which includes:
1. Loss of weight
2. Heart burn
3. Discomfort or pain while you eat food
4. Chest pain
5. Risk of esophagus cancer

Treatment for achalasia:
Esophageal manometry is a technique your doctor may use, if he suspects achalasia when the symptoms include difficulty while you eat and swallow foods. A tube measures the muscular activity in your stomach and reports about the functioning of your esophagus. Another way to diagnose is through X- ray of the esophagus or endoscopy.

The treatment for achalasia generally starts with oral medications. Sphincter nitrates and calcium blockers often help to relax the muscles. Botox can also help to relax your sphincter and help you swallow food.
Esophagomyotomy also helps to treat achalasia in which your doctor can use an incision to access the sphincter and also alter it to enable better flow into the stomach. It’s a generally successful procedure, but sometimes can cause Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which causes heart burn and would require intensive care. Sometimes surgery can also help to give relief but it can also cause acid reflux, respiratory problems, tearing of esophagus along with other serious complications.

Laparoscopic surgery is a simple and effective way of treating this problem .The tight lower esophageal sphincter is released to make way for easy passage of food.The patient recovers in one day and is discharged home following this operation. If you wish to discuss any specific problem, you can consult a gastroenterologist.

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