Achalasia: General Description
The esophagus is the swallowing tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Achalasia is a disease affecting the esophagus; Solid and liquid foods cannot easily pass into the stomach due to the defect in the relaxation of the valve formed by muscles called the lower esophageal sphincter on the stomach side of the esophagus, and therefore difficulty in swallowing is experienced.
Achalasia is caused by the breakdown or loss of nerve cells in the esophagus that control the muscles involved in the swallowing of nutrients. A method has not yet been found by scientists to create a complete cure in achalasia. However, the quality of life can be increased by controlling the symptoms with treatment.
Achalasia can happen at any age. However, this disease is most common between the ages of 30 and 60. It is equal in men and women. Although the cause has not been determined yet, studies show that genetic factors, some diseases that the body targets itself (autoimmune diseases) and some infections play a role in the formation of the disease.
Which is the Primary Symptom of Achalasia?
Achalasia is a disease whose symptoms develop slowly. During the disease process, complaints such as:
- Difficulty swallowing solid and liquid foods
- Food coming back into the mouth
- Pain or burning sensation in the chest
- Cough after meals
- Weight loss
After listening to your medical history and performing a physical exam, your doctor may refer to certain tests to support the diagnosis of achalasia, such as:
It is the direct examination of the esophagus and the valve opening to your abdomen with the help of a flexible device with a camera.
Esophagogram (Barium esophagus graphy)
This is the visualization of the movements of the esophagus while swallowing a thick contrast material called barium.
It is a simple pressure measuring tube. It helps to measure the amount of pressure the esophagus exerts on liquid or solid foods. Manometry is sent to the esophagus and from there to the stomach. This test can show the increase in pressure in the contractions of the muscles involved.
Today, achalasia treatment does not provide a complete cure in the disease, but helps to alleviate the symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
It prevents complications that may occur in the stomach and esophagus cover. The following methods are used in the treatment of achalasia;
Pneumatic dilatation: A balloon is sent into the esophagus through an endoscope by the physician, passed through the valve between the esophagus and stomach, and then inflated.
Botox injection: Botox is a drug that prevents muscle contraction. Botox can be injected into the muscles in this valve to relax the valve opening where the esophagus and stomach meet. This procedure can also be done during endoscopy.
The effect of botox usually passes between 3 months and a year, so the procedure may need to be repeated when the drug loses its effect.
The operations performed to expand and loosen the lid between the stomach and esophagus are called myotomy. In myotomy, some of the muscles of this valve are cut. These types of surgical procedures usually provide long-term relief from achalasia symptoms.
If you are having problems with your health, you should go to the doctor or call 911. If you want to know more about these, you should follow U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.