Achalasia

Ashley Gray

Synonyms and Related Disorders

Synonyms:

Cardiospasm

Dyssynergia Esophagus

Esophageal Aperistalis

Magaesophagus


Related Disorders:

Esophageal Cancer

Swallowing disorders related to Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and ALS

What is it?

An enlargement of the esophagus that impairs the ability to push food through the esophagus to the stomach (peristalsis). As well as the failure of the lower esophageal sphincter to relax.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms appear gradually and starts with an impairment in the ability to swallow along with mild chest pain. The retention of saliva and food in the esophagus can be propelled into the lung. A person might also notice weight loss, dry eyes, and dry mouth. This may also cause pneumonia, pulmonary infections, and death.

Causes

The direct cause is unknown although some think that it is caused by the degeneration of a group of nerve cells in the chest.

Affected Populations

This disease affects adults between the ages of 25 and 60 years old, although cases have been seen in children. It affects both males and females when it is not inherited. In inherited cases, it is two times more likely for males to be diagnosed with the disease.

Diagnosis

X-rays are used to formally diagnose the disease as well as radiological examination with barium to show the enlargement of the esophagus. Manometers (device used to measure fluid pressure) are also used.

Standard Therapies

Drugs, manual dilation of the the sphincter, and surgery are used to make the muscle of the sphincter to relax. Drugs used include: isosorbide and nifedipine. Ballon dilation is used to enlarge the sphincter, although some patients end up needing several dilations to relieve their symptoms.
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Sources

"Achalasia Information. Difficulty Swallowing Food and Fluids | Patient."Patient. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2015.

"Achalasia." National Organization for Rare Disorders. N.p., 2007. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.