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Achalasia

Achalasia

Achalasia overview
Symptoms
Diagnosis
Treatment

Achalasia overview

Achalasia is a rare swallowing disorder that affects the esophagus (the tube which carries food from the mouth to the stomach). Achalasia is a chronic condition that worsens over time. It is treatable but not curable.

In people with achalasia, the muscles of the esophagus do not move food properly toward the stomach. In addition, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) - the muscle that joins the esophagus to the stomach - is constricted and prevents food from emptying normally into the stomach.

The cause of achalasia is unknown, but may be related to damage to the nerves of the esophagus.

Click here for the achalasia fact sheet from the Temple Digestive Disease Center.

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Symptoms

Symptoms appear slowly over time and frequently resemble many other more common gastrointestinal disorders. They include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn
  • A sensation of fullness
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Chest pain

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Diagnosis

Testing is necessary for proper diagnosis and to rule out other conditions. It includes:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Barium swallow (under X-ray, measures the movement of the barium through the esophagus to reveal any swallowing problems)
  • Manometry (insertion of a thin tube into the esophagus to measure the pressure in the esophagus)
  • Endoscopy (insertion of a thin, lighted, flexible tube allows physicians to view the inside of the esophagus)

Schedule an appointment

To schedule an appointment with a Temple Digestive Disease Center Physician, click here or call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED [1-800-836-7536].

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Treatment

Learn more about Achalasia treatments and surgery.

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