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Achalasia

The following is a fact sheet by the Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders, Inc. (AGMD).

What is achalasia?

Achalasia is a digestive motility disorder affecting the esophagus. Patients with achalasia have an absence of peristalsis (digestive contractions) in the smooth muscle of the esophagus and the inability of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax.

Who does achalasia affect?

Achalasia may be present at any age and affects women as well as men.

What are the causes?

Most causes of achalasia are idiopathic (unknown origin). There is, however, an association with the absence of ganglion cells in the nerves located in the muscle layers of the esophagus.

Secondary causes may possibly be viral, autoimmune, and cancer related.

What are some of the symptoms?

Some of the symptoms of achalasia include, difficulty swallowing solids and liquids, regurgitation of food, chest pain, heartburn, coughing and chocking, especially at night, hiccups, difficulty burping, food aspirating into the lungs, and weight loss.

What are some treatments?

Treatments may include, medications, pneumatic dilation, botox injections, and Heller myotomy surgery.

Is there a cure for achalasia?

Unfortunately, no treatment is available that can regenerate the muscular activity in the esophagus.

The information contained in the fact sheet was written by Maryangela DeGrazia-DiTucci, President/Patient/Founder and reviewed by AGMD Medical Advisors. This information sheet should be used as a guide only and should not serve as a substitute for medical advice. Patients are urged to contact their physician regarding any questions or concerns they may have related to their health.

 

 

This page was last modified on February 6, 2017

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